Sunday, January 8, 2012

Netflix This: Beginners

     Beginners is about Hal and Oliver, a father and son who find love in unlikely places. The woman in their lives (wife, mother), Georgia, has recently died, and Hal has a curious confession: "I'm Gay." So begins the story of this loving father and son's second chance at happiness. Hal and Georgia had been married for 38 years, so the news is a shock to Oliver, who has relationship problems of his own, never being able to make a connection with anyone meaningful.
     Both find a new meaning in life when opening up to others about their true thoughts, feelings and convictions. Hal has found a new boyfriend, and is absolutely joyous at the thought of actually being able to live a gay lifestyle out in the open, no longer confined to the standards and morals of a heterosexual marriage. Christopher Plummer, sure to be recognized for this small but great role during awards season, portrays Hal as an extremely loving and caring man. He dances, drinks great wine, attends parties with flash and flair, all the while concealing to everyone that he is dying of cancer other than a select few loved ones. Oliver meets a new girl at a costume party, the first encounter being cute and eccentric, due to new girl's laryngitis. New girl is Anna, portrayed by Inglorious Basterd's Melanie Laurent as a woman with plenty of beauty, uniqueness and distance to keep Oliver interested. Ewan McGregor portrays Oliver with a charming sadness, one who finds it hard to be truly happy in a world that doesn't make much sense.
     Three time lines make up Beginners, seamlessly changing between Oliver's childhood memories of spending time with his mother, the hard time with Anna after his father's death, and the short period of time where Hal finally came out of the closet and enjoyed his gay lifestyle. This doesn't ruin the story: it's about the journey rather than the outcome. Beginners is about people just trying to be happy, whether they have their entire, fruitful lives ahead of them or only a couple of months left to live. Certain scenes in Beginners involve Hal's dog, Arthur, whom Oliver has grown to think of as a loving friend and companion. We read what Arthur is barking and thinking, because it's subtitled into the English language. He, like most dogs wouldn't be, isn't concerned with opinions or emotions and tells things how they are. Thankfully, Beginners is the same way: it's simple and effective, and shows us the love and lives of two characters who have been hiding in one metaphorical closet or another.

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