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Beginners (2011)



Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 147
Fresh: 124 | Rotten: 23

Wearing its twee heart on its sleeve, Beginners explores the depths of modern, multi-generational romance with wit and depth.


Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 40
Fresh: 32 | Rotten: 8

Wearing its twee heart on its sleeve, Beginners explores the depths of modern, multi-generational romance with wit and depth.



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Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 23,166

My Rating

Movie Info

Beginners imaginatively explores the hilarity, confusion, and surprises of love through the evolving consciousness of Oliver (Ewan McGregor). Oliver meets the irreverent and unpredictable Anna (Mélanie Laurent) only months after his father Hal (Christopher Plummer) has passed away. This new love floods Oliver with memories of his father who - following 44 years of marriage - came out of the closet at age 75 to live a full, energized, and wonderfully tumultuous gay life. The upheavals of Hal's


Drama, Comedy

Mike Mills (II)

Nov 15, 2011


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All Critics (149) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (124) | Rotten (23) | DVD (4)

The film is not about a straight man's struggle to understand how his father is gay; it's about learning that happiness is always possible if you're brave enough to keep your heart open.

July 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"Beginners" is warm and revealing and bittersweet, if a trifle all over the place stylistically and thematically.

June 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A strange and beautiful film.

June 24, 2011 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"Beginners" is a delightful film - gentle, playful, creative and ultimately happy - though it's a tricky journey.

June 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Excruciatingly faux-naďve and sentimental...

June 20, 2011 Full Review Source: New Yorker | Comments (7)
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Wwhile there's plenty of melancholia, there is also sweet wonder and celebration in writer-director Mike Mills' semiautobiographical tale of a straight son coming to terms with his own love's possibilities after his father comes out of the closet.

June 17, 2011 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mike Mills treats love and loss with a disarming tenderness and a refusal of sentimentality that make Beginners, his second feature, something of an anomaly among male identity flicks. What a finely wrought, wryly funny, transcendently sad movie this is.

July 12, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

It understands death better than it understands life; it understands memories more than it understands what to learn from them.

June 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Deadspin

Beginners, beyond its pervasive atmosphere of melancholy and loss, suffers from a little self-indulgence. It's your typical indie drama.

June 2, 2013 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

Plummer, who won an Oscar for this, is that rare actor lucky enough to manage half a century of undiminished dash and elan on screen.

January 1, 2013 Full Review Source: McClatchy-Tribune News Service
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Life begins at death. A funny, engaging romantic dramedy about never being too late to find happiness.

September 15, 2012 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

Una historia profundamente humana en la que el director no teme escarbar en sus propios fantasmas. Christopher Plummer se adueńa de su personaje de una manera tierna y conmovedora, que le valió el Oscar como mejor actor de reparto.

March 26, 2012 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

Good performances by McGregor, Plummer and Laurent. A lot of odd characters in this film. The idea of a cute little dog communicating with people by telepathy worked pretty well.

February 2, 2012 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

McGregor and Plummer put on a master's exhibition of timing, tone and tenacity.

December 28, 2011 Full Review Source: JWR

In any other movie, the key character of Arthur, a soulful Jack Russell terrier, would draw all the attention away from the two-legged protagonists, but the performances by the three leads are so superb that everyone is able to share in the glory.

December 21, 2011 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Like his irreverent film Thumbsucker, Mills tackles dark territory but never strays too far into melancholy.

December 7, 2011 Full Review Source:

Mills frames the tale with enough melancholy and self-reflection to give Beginners more than its fair share of observational truths.

November 28, 2011 Full Review Source:

[Director Mike] Mills... gives the film a celebratory passion in the quiet closeness of father and son and the playful first-person storytelling...

November 16, 2011 Full Review Source:

A quietly moving, delicately mounted romantic drama that touches the heart with resorting to melodrama or an over-reliance on conflict.

October 18, 2011 Full Review Source: The Age (Australia)
The Age (Australia)

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September 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses
Movies for the Masses

McGregor and Plummer offer up two perfectly weighted, occasionally humorous and often heartbreaking performances.

August 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Moviedex

Beginners is perceptive, funny and moving.

August 25, 2011 Full Review Source: The Age (Australia)
The Age (Australia)

Veers between being at times rather tedious and at others very moving.

August 25, 2011 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

A beautifully understated piece of filmmaking and a playfully inventive style of storytelling are combined to great effect in Beginners.

August 25, 2011 Full Review Source: Herald Sun (Australia)
Herald Sun (Australia)

It does get a bit too cute stylistically, but the easy chemistry between the three leads ensures this adds up to a gentle and often touching charmer.

August 25, 2011 Full Review Source: FILMINK (Australia)
FILMINK (Australia)

"A powerful homage not only to one's parents but to the power of community."

August 25, 2011 Full Review Source: Knight at the Movies
Knight at the Movies

Audience Reviews for Beginners

Honestly couldn't get into this. Cover is so cute, movie doesn't match it at all. Kind of dull toned, slow pace...well, just dull. The gay dad angle was good, but didn't care about either of the two leads. Turned it off after half hour.
February 26, 2014

Super Reviewer

I loved how the structure, the narration, and the subtle quirks of Mike Mills' "Beginners" heighten what is already a terrifically acted and uncommonly sincere story. The film wears it's heart on it's sleeve from the first frame and maintains it's emotional resonance without any sap or string pulling. Plummer won a most deserved Oscar for his memorable work, but it's puzzling as to why McGregor, excellent here, didn't get similar acknowledgements.
October 3, 2013

Super Reviewer

"Beginners" is buoyed by its decision to play it straight and staying away from being over the top, quirky, or eccentric. Instead, this indie film decides to play up its varied and multi-talented cast by giving them sincere words to speak and dark fears to touch upon. The film itself is not completely an actor's film. The script is very poignant, touching upon the raw emotions of people dealing with death, insecurities, and their own feelings of loneliness. What's great about the film is that it deals with these complex emotions by looking at the lives of two generations of men, both plagued by their own inability to control their destinies and both remain stuck inside their own heads. The older half of this twosome is Hal, played by the incomparable Christopher Plummer. This is a role that belongs to Plummer, as he moves seamlessly between a man torn between the past and present. Instead of the gimmicky premise that you're expecting, very little of the film directly deals with Hal coming out the closet late in life. There are flashbacks which show him coming out to his son, being in a gay bar, and his relationship with a younger man, but most of them show the advice of the father being given to his hardhearted son. Ewan McGregor plays Oliver, who shifts between the present as the bereaved and yet not lost son, and in the past where he was watching his father live his life for the first time, and yet also watches it start to slip away. The poignancy of a life lost is even darker thanks to the irony of him never being himself for most of it. His dead wife isn't made the butt of the joke either, as she is represented well in the film, and that ties together a loose end that also translates to Oliver's life at present. He and Anna's (Laurent) love story is amazingly detailed, but drags in places, mostly because both seem very unsteady with their emotions. It's one of the more honest films about a couple that doesn't know how to be one.
September 4, 2013

Super Reviewer

For a film so considered and cloistered, this one was strangely breathless, and impossible to turn away from, showing something new from scene to scene that kept you watching and kept subtly raising the ante. Ewan McGregor's an old favourite of mine, and Mélanie Laurent's a new one, so I may have been pre-disposed to really enjoy this film. That said, it earned Christopher Plummer his long overdue Oscar, and really balanced its three characters' stories well - without drowning the viewer in sentiment, which is an accomplishment given the subject matter (family relationships, dying, coming out, a tentatively hip new love). The kind of film I'm not used to seeing, a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways. Quiet classic.
March 8, 2013

Super Reviewer

    1. Hal: I said look I love you and we're great buddies but you know what I am. And then she says, that doesn't matter. I'll fix that.
    – Submitted by Victor M (17 months ago)
    1. Young Oliver: This music's old.
    2. Georgia: It's black, black music is the deepest cause they suffeIn my next life I'm gonna marry a good hot blooded Jew - someone full of emotion. red the most, them and the Jews.
    3. Oliver: I'm Jewish right?
    4. Georgia: You're a quarter, I'm a half, your father's none. He has the least emotions, You'll have more emotions than him, but I'll have the most emotions.
    – Submitted by Victor M (17 months ago)
    1. Elliot: What was that?
    2. Oliver: Historical consciousness. You know, something bigger than myself.
    – Submitted by Victor M (17 months ago)
    1. Elliot: I know! You're not very supportive.
    2. Oliver: Well, its just copying something someone did like 30 years ago in the Bronx.
    3. Elliot: Well yeah. I'm part of a tradition of civil disobedience, something bigger than myself.
    – Submitted by Victor M (17 months ago)
    1. Young Oliver: It's like I lost the instructions or I, I never had them.
    – Submitted by Victor M (17 months ago)
    1. Oliver: Jesus, Liz. Another band that wants portraits.
    2. Liz: Well, at least it pays the rent.
    3. Oliver: You do something decent once, and that's all people ever want.
    – Submitted by Victor M (17 months ago)
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