Beginners

User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 231 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 10 out of 231

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User Reviews

  1. Apr 18, 2016
    8
    I am a sucker for these kinds of movies that examine life, especially parental relationships and love. Beginners is no exception and remains endlessly touching and truly emotional, while somehow being relatable even though the situation of having a father come out of the closet at age 75 is certainly quite unique. It is not hard to believe that this was a personal situation forI am a sucker for these kinds of movies that examine life, especially parental relationships and love. Beginners is no exception and remains endlessly touching and truly emotional, while somehow being relatable even though the situation of having a father come out of the closet at age 75 is certainly quite unique. It is not hard to believe that this was a personal situation for writer/director Mike Mills, evident in his graceful direction and fantastic script. The dialogue and characterizations feel thoroughly real and well-executed. Ewan McGregor, Melanie Laurent, and Christopher Plummer, all turn in very good performances here and real human beings with real emotions. It is always refreshing to see a film that treats the human condition with such respect and extracts drama from everyday life. Beginners is a perfect example of this and this, in turn, makes it a thoroughly enjoyable viewing experience. Overall, Beginners is a thoroughly sweet, endearing comedy-drama that really brings serious charm to the table. Expand
  2. Aug 24, 2014
    7
    Filled with truly warm and tender moments, this film is a story of how powerful the human relationship can be. The chemistry between Christopher Plummer and Ewan MacGregor is incredible. Two of the best performances of their careers.
  3. Jan 12, 2012
    8
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Beginners is a film about life, and the hugely contrasting ways you can view it. Are you gay or straight? An optimist or a pessimist? A romantic or realist? These questions are discussed with great insight and wit by writer/director Mike Mills, whose life the main events of the film are based. The cast are extremely strong - Ewan McGregor giving an understated, but ever engaging performance as Oliver, a graphic designer who has recently lost his father and steadily spirals into depression. Melanie Laurent also impresses as Anna, a jobbing actress who is terrified of a committed relationship with Oliver and the impact it could have on her career. Most of all though, Christopher Plummer absolutely captivates you in every scene he's in. He plays Hal, Oliver's father, who decides to come out as gay aged 75 on the tragic death of his wife Georgia (the brilliantly kooky Mary Page Keller). Plummer plays against type, which is refreshing, but not the main reason to savour his performance. What really blew me away about his performance was how well-developed, relateable and instantly believable he made Hal as a character, which is thankful because he is the driving force behind most of the events of the film - if Hal didn't emotionally resonate with us, then neither would the film as a whole. Shortly after his coming out, Hal is diagnosed with cancer, and must find the balance between receiving treatment and enjoying the liberation of his new life with young partner Andy (Goran Visnjik), and all the while Oliver worries and contemplates his lifelong inability to communicate with his father. The story is told very creatively, frequently jumping backwards and forwards, with Oliver's retrospective, thoughtful voiceover giving some insight into how he felt at the particular moment we are watching. The film is deeply personal, emotionally compelling and often very funny. I personally don't see the point in subtitling the Hal's dog Arthur's thoughts - it's an interesting idea, but adds very little to the film, appearing to be just quirky for the sake of it. I also found the finale a little underwhelming, with the rest of the film feeling so narratively tight and full of ideas, the final moments appear a little unfocused and somewhat emotionally soppy. These minor points aside, Beginners is without doubt one of the best films of 2011, with an outstanding performance from Plummer, great writing, and through being an immensely rewarding viewing experience in general. Expand
  4. Oct 21, 2011
    10
    Beginners begins with loss, the loss of a parent. However its this event that brings about what I can only describe as one of the most heartfelt, gripping and powerful movie experiences.
    Beginners is the story of Oliver Fields (Ewan McGregor) a son trying to handle the loss of his father who died only 2 months prior. However he is also looking back on his father Hal's (Christopher
    Beginners begins with loss, the loss of a parent. However its this event that brings about what I can only describe as one of the most heartfelt, gripping and powerful movie experiences.
    Beginners is the story of Oliver Fields (Ewan McGregor) a son trying to handle the loss of his father who died only 2 months prior. However he is also looking back on his father Hal's (Christopher Plummer) life following the death of his mother, when Hal came out as a gay man (a moment handled so beautifully I might add). The story is one of both men trying to find love in their own way with Hal finally being able to accept who he is and Oliver trying to get over the significant commitment issues he has. In this regard Beginners succeeds with Oliver meeting a french actress called Anna (Melanie Laurent) and Hal meeting a young paranoid gay man named Andy (Goran Visjnic). Together the four leads provide some outstanding performances with Christopher Plummer being incredibly vibrant and entertaining while conveying Hal's wonder at how the gay scene had changed with him enjoying every minute of his new life despite the fact he has just been diagnosed with cancer. McGregor is an engaging lead with his performance showing incredible versatility with Oliver being very closed off at first and then much more emotionally enthralling later on. Laurent and Visjnic are equally gripping with the latter bringing his characters flamboyant nature to life while also hinting at the characters fears about his acceptance within society. Beginners flourishes in its quirky tone and manages the time jumps from Oliver's present (2003) to his fathers 4 years as an openly out gay man, to Oliver's childhood with his mother. The film actually benefits from this approach with there being moments where Oliver does something that seems totally random (like say hello to his house, his dining room, his bedroom) and the flashbacks show that not only is it not random it is Oliver's way of connecting to the man he lost just as he was finally getting to know him.
    The film plays to its strengths with the idea of silence meaning more than words, especially with Laurent's Anna who has laryngitis when we first meet her at a costume party. Despite this obvious problem the communication between Oliver and Anna is incredibly honest and the evolution of their relationship is realistic while quirky, touching but not overtly emotional and ever so slightly adorable.

    The overall result is a film that makes the viewer think but also allows them to lose themselves in a world of great characters and engaging story thanks to some outstanding direction, acting and editing. A film I will be thinking about for days, maybe even weeks.
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  5. Lyn
    Dec 26, 2011
    9
    At every point in the story when things could take a goofy or soapy turn, the film opts instead for an honest laugh or a gentle sadness -- it's a subtle approach that really works. Christopher Plummer is superb as usual. McGregor's character's actions are odd at times, but then you remember what he's dealing with as a son: astounding revelations about his parents, and now they're bothAt every point in the story when things could take a goofy or soapy turn, the film opts instead for an honest laugh or a gentle sadness -- it's a subtle approach that really works. Christopher Plummer is superb as usual. McGregor's character's actions are odd at times, but then you remember what he's dealing with as a son: astounding revelations about his parents, and now they're both dead. The "back and forth in time" device, which can feel like a cliche, works well here. It helps us understand the son and in the end, wish him well. Expand
  6. BKM
    Dec 20, 2011
    7
    The film's indie vibe and quirkiness prevent it from being a truly immersive experience, but the superb performances from Plummer and McGregor provide an emotional kick nevertheless.
  7. Dec 16, 2011
    8
    Fresh, witty, original, my sister told me that the movie was boring but she is crazy, this movie was wonderful.! Plummer or Plummer fantastic, Mélanie Laurent very good, and MacGregor great.!
  8. Sep 16, 2012
    8
    Sometimes you only realise certain things until something shocking happens. This poignant tale, which somehow goes a little over the top, tells us of the fragility of human emotion and expression, a tale of how life goes on and what we learn along the way. I loved the incorporation of the cute little dog and his subtitles of his thoughts - films never really do that, but it gave us aSometimes you only realise certain things until something shocking happens. This poignant tale, which somehow goes a little over the top, tells us of the fragility of human emotion and expression, a tale of how life goes on and what we learn along the way. I loved the incorporation of the cute little dog and his subtitles of his thoughts - films never really do that, but it gave us a different perspective of not just human nature. It was crazy at times, there wasn't much talking and sometimes I felt it wasn't really trying too hard to not be what it was supposed to - an art-house film. I still find it very thought-provoking, though, and the beautiful inter-mix of humour and sadness evoked so many other emotions. Ewan McGregor was great for this role, and I can't deny the others their applause either. Expand
  9. Feb 21, 2012
    7
    Beginners is a movie about couple relationships, and it can be compare with Annie Hall, 500 Days of Summer and The Future, because they are very similar to real life, they are not a fairytale or an always happy ending story.
    This film compares and contrasts three couples, the one of Oliver with Ana, Hal with Georgia, and Hal with Andy. The first one is trying to arise in a world where
    Beginners is a movie about couple relationships, and it can be compare with Annie Hall, 500 Days of Summer and The Future, because they are very similar to real life, they are not a fairytale or an always happy ending story.
    This film compares and contrasts three couples, the one of Oliver with Ana, Hal with Georgia, and Hal with Andy. The first one is trying to arise in a world where everything is temporary; the second one is trying to be what they are not and trying to have what they have not; and the third one is trying to get their last chance to love, this couple appear when Georgia dies and Hal discovers that he is gay.
    The topic that treats this picture is the evolution of couple relationships during the last two centuries. In 1950 the relations were simpler, a couple shows how happy is their life, but is constantly hiding their problems under the carpet, so the sad moments never occur; and according to the movie those moments plus serious talk, are the foundation of a modern relationship. That is why Oliver and Ana go through ups and downs, in order to get what they really what, for what they are being waiting for a lifetime.
    Although it is a little bit slow and redundant, the film has amazing performances; the one of Christopher Plummer definitely deserves an Academy Award. The direction, script, music and montage are very well done.
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  10. Aug 10, 2012
    8
    A slow and contemplative film from Mike Mills, the writer/director behind "Thumbsucker." If you commit to and stay with the story here, the pay-off is most certainly worth the effort. Also, Christopher Plummer definitely deserved the Oscar for his role, as he was mesmerizing.
  11. Dec 2, 2011
    7
    I missed not having a closer relationship with my dad. The movie hints at it but is not blatant about it. Oliver had no reason to be afraid of a relationship. I wanted to reach out and slap him. The characters were real, warm, honest, loving. At some points in our lives we are all Beginners; Oliver was always one. There is hope that he will grow. The film stands out because theI missed not having a closer relationship with my dad. The movie hints at it but is not blatant about it. Oliver had no reason to be afraid of a relationship. I wanted to reach out and slap him. The characters were real, warm, honest, loving. At some points in our lives we are all Beginners; Oliver was always one. There is hope that he will grow. The film stands out because the homosexuality is not a major player, rather the people and their relationships is what it is about. I cried a bit, laughed a little, smiled a lot, and enjoyed the film. No thinking, just feeling. Two things did bother me: the editing and/or the actual time shifting and Ms. Laurent being nude in one scene. Must every movie show a nude female when it has no relevance to the story? Expand
  12. Nov 16, 2011
    10
    This movie may be is going to make you feel bad at the beginning but at the end is you're just gonna feel happy about it, the message of the movie is clear: we can not impede that bad things happen the important is how we face it and how are we dispose to begin again, is simply EXCELLENT
  13. Dec 5, 2011
    8
    Great little film and probably Ewan McGregor's best in years. Portrays significant depth of emotional and sociological ideals such as growing old, finding love and dealing with inner demons. So may layers are peeled back slowly throughout the film, allowing the viewer to really feel each characters pain and burdens. Melanie Laurent shows herself to be a true gem, and a talent of the future.
  14. Jan 18, 2012
    10
    Taking its cues from Annie Hall, the whimsy feels genuine in the first half supported by a wonderfully executed girl-meets-boy scene and a cool narrative structure. Somewhere in the center when fireworks explode in the sky and the new couple take to a hotel lobby on rollerskates (with cute dog in tow) it all begins to feel dialed in and hardly as substantial a movie experience you're hoping for.
  15. Jun 4, 2012
    8
    Reminiscent of classic moves like American Beauty. Enjoyable cast. Imaginative writting. Creative. Maybe a bit slow, but I thought the pace was moreso appropriate.
  16. Aug 23, 2011
    9
    Beginners is an absolute gem of a film. The acting is grade-A with a younger star like Ewan Mcgregor (once again) proving his high capabilities and an experienced celebrity, Christoper Plummer, maintaining his high quality work. This films individuality, quirks, humor, and genius come in the editing. Many scenes seem unnecessary and disconnected but they serve a higher purpose of outwardlyBeginners is an absolute gem of a film. The acting is grade-A with a younger star like Ewan Mcgregor (once again) proving his high capabilities and an experienced celebrity, Christoper Plummer, maintaining his high quality work. This films individuality, quirks, humor, and genius come in the editing. Many scenes seem unnecessary and disconnected but they serve a higher purpose of outwardly representing what so much of a relationship is. Do not mistake this film as a gay-pride motion picture; it's much more than that. Beginners will lift you through the spectrum of emotions and drop you off breathless. I recommend Beginners to every open-minded, emotional human-- others may not appreciate. Expand
  17. Aug 17, 2011
    9
    It's beautiful, touching and humorous all at the same time, with a brilliant cast (particularly Christopher Plummer) and premise. I left the cinema feeling like I could watch it again straight away.
  18. Jan 13, 2016
    7
    This is a slow film, quite realistic I might add, and I feel that most of the actors played their role to the best possible level. I find Goran Visnjic's part to be a bit short, but touching and heartwarming. Ewan McGregor was absolutely brilliant and Christopher Plummer was stunning as well.
  19. Jun 11, 2011
    10
    Completely original movie making at its best!. Wonderfully affecting. Plummer, MacGregor (his finest role to date) and Laurent are outstanding. You can't take your eyes off any one of them. The relationship between father and son is real. The romance between would-be lovers is painfully tentative and true. The subtitles by a dog who can't talk but can understand "150 words" is wonderfullyCompletely original movie making at its best!. Wonderfully affecting. Plummer, MacGregor (his finest role to date) and Laurent are outstanding. You can't take your eyes off any one of them. The relationship between father and son is real. The romance between would-be lovers is painfully tentative and true. The subtitles by a dog who can't talk but can understand "150 words" is wonderfully amusing. Four stars all the way!!! Expand
  20. Jun 3, 2011
    10
    i only wish I could give this film a higher score than 'ten'. Beginners is quirky but beautiful--a small, creative, subtle, character driven kind of film, while still successfully moving the audience. It is comparable to modern romantic comedies like (500) Days of Summer, although more mature smart. Classic Woody Allen films come to mind when attempting to describe this gem (partially duei only wish I could give this film a higher score than 'ten'. Beginners is quirky but beautiful--a small, creative, subtle, character driven kind of film, while still successfully moving the audience. It is comparable to modern romantic comedies like (500) Days of Summer, although more mature smart. Classic Woody Allen films come to mind when attempting to describe this gem (partially due to the prevalent old-school jazz soundtrack), although Beginners lacks the overt neurosis (which may be a positive depending on one's opinion). It grabs your heart and mind and refuses to let go, proving that Beginners will be a film that I continue to think about and admire for a long, long time. Ewan McGregor, Melanie Laurent, and Christopher Plummer are all visions. Highly recommended. Expand
  21. Aug 7, 2011
    10
    Excellent Movie... thoroughly enjoyed the quirky characters and by the way Melanie Laurent is stunning. The relationship between Melanie Laurent and Ewan McGreggor is interesting as is the way Ewan is able to come to terms with his gay father, Christopher Plummer.
  22. Jul 17, 2011
    10
    Beautiful and heart breaking as if Vintage Woody Allen met vintage Wong Kar Wai. A fantastic cast acting their socks off and a talking dog that actually works. Go see.
  23. Dec 16, 2011
    9
    This movie is a very beautiful unpretentious romance. The characters are indeed very interesting, which, i believe, is made possible by the amazing actors who play them.
    It puts us very stealthily out of our comfort zone, making us question things like life and love. People should give it a shot even if just for the unusual experience Beginners grant us with it's smart non-linear story.
    I
    This movie is a very beautiful unpretentious romance. The characters are indeed very interesting, which, i believe, is made possible by the amazing actors who play them.
    It puts us very stealthily out of our comfort zone, making us question things like life and love. People should give it a shot even if just for the unusual experience Beginners grant us with it's smart non-linear story.
    I do understand some critics to this movie as being slow or boring though. I think that both cinema and life itself has gotten so spectacularized (in a Guy Debordian sense) that we are somehow surprised by the calm and simple atmosphere posed in this film. But that's something we should dislike in our society, not in art. Actually, it's the subtle construction that makes this piece so good.
    (I don't think I was very clear, but I'm sure some of you will understand; anyway... there are always other reviews)
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Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. Reviewed by: Anna Smith
    Jul 18, 2011
    60
    With good performances and characters, Beginners is an enjoyable, amusing and occasionally poignant watch. Indie film fans will want to catch it, but it falls short of being a must-see.
  2. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Jun 30, 2011
    88
    McGregor hasn't been this appealing or vulnerable in ages, and in both of the film's love stories, he exemplifies Mills' message.
  3. Reviewed by: Calvin Wilson
    Jun 24, 2011
    100
    A lovably quirky comedy-drama with a rhythm all its own.