Beginners (2011) - Rotten Tomatoes

Beginners (2011)

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

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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 new honesty, by turns funny and moving, brought father and son closer than they'd ever been able to be. Now Oliver endeavors to love Anna with all the bravery, humor, and hope that his father taught him. -- (c) IFC

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Cast

Kai Lennox
as Elliot
Keegan Boos
as Young Oliver
Amanda Payton
as Party Person
Luke Diliberto
as Green Witch
Bill Oberst Jr.
as Hal's Friend
Jessica Elder
as Party Girl
Hana Hwang
as The Sads
Jennifer Lauren Grant
as Record Company Rep
Jodi Long
as Dr. Flaster
Bruce French
as Dr. Wright
Leslie Shea
as ICU Nurse #1
Michael Chieffo
as Hal's Priest
Jennifer Hasty
as Secretary
Rodney Saulsberry
as 1978 Museum Staff
June Sanders
as 1978 Fancy Woman
Catherine McGoohan
as 1978 Older Woman
Terry Walters
as Terse Nurse
Lana Young
as ICU Nurse #2
Sunday Burke
as Home Nurse #1
Patrick Birkett
as Hal Look-Alike
Sabera Wise
as Skating Rink Manager
T.G. Cody
as The Primetimers
Ton Suckhasem
as The Primetimers
Charly Valentino
as The Primetimers
Seth Walker
as The Primetimers
Patrick Scott
as The Primetimers
Michael Wilhelms
as The Primetimers
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Critic Reviews for Beginners

All Critics (150) | Top Critics (41)

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 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

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

June 29, 2011 | Rating: 3/4

A strange and beautiful film.

June 24, 2011 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

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

June 23, 2011 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…

Excruciatingly faux-naïve and sentimental...

June 20, 2011 | Full Review…

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 | Rating: 3.5/4

Audience Reviews for Beginners

½

How can anyone learn to love or love freely when we all come from such flawed backgrounds, when no one knows how to love? This work intelligently explores this dynamic with two souls who come together specifically because of their tangled roots and their innate distrust of even themselves. Put this on a double feature with The Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

½

Independent cinema can range from a student film with not a single dollar to its budget, to an Oscar-nominated film worth 40-50 million dollars. As long as its not backed by one of the wide distributors worldwide, its technically an indie film. That being said, Beginners is about as indie as indie gets when comparing it to some of the wider releases. While this is not a difficult film to sit through, it may not appeal to everyone. Independent films have always been able to tell simpler and more bizarre stories, due to the fact that they are not relying on a big box office return in order to make their film. This is a sweet 100 minute film about life and accepting certain things throughout it. Released back in 2010, there is a reason it didn't win too many awards, but that doesn't take away from the fact that I believe it to be a very enjoyable piece of filmmaking. If you are a fan of cinema and have yet to see Beginners, here is why I think it's worth your time. Following Oliver, a 38-year-old man who is living with a recently tortured past, as he falls in love one more time, the film begins to explore what has given him such grief over the past few years. Having his mother pass away after being married to his father for over 45 years, to then find out his father had actually been gay the entire time, to having to accept him falling for another man, to then having to take care of him as he passed away four years later, Ewan McGregor delivers a wonderfully sincere performance here. In a film that desperately needs its leading man to deliver the goods, McGregor was perfect casting decision. This film deals with a lot of heartbreak, but that's life, right? Unlike films like Blue Valentine or the recent Manchester by the Sea (films with hardly any levity), the romantic aspect is truly the only thing giving life to this saddening premise. Beginners is a very heartfelt story about to unlikely people falling in love, while the past is looming over them like a bad disease. It's definitely not a film that warrants many viewings, but it's a nice treat for independent film fans. To me, in order to balance a film perfectly, there has to be an even amount of happy to go along with the sad. This film does that in spades, which is why I enjoyed it so much. That being said, the main issue I have with this film is in its simplicity. Sure, some people may find the fact that a 75-year-old man falling in love with a 35-year-old man to be risky territory, but if you are willing to explore an aspect like that, why not go for it? Their relationship is not explored enough in my opinion, leaving little to no impact on me for the future setting of this film. Flashing back and forth through time to show how our main character got to be where he is, I found the present day more interesting than the past, due to the fact that the interesting portions of the past feel incomplete and not fleshed out enough. Beginners is a very ambitious film in the way it tells its story, but fails to impress all that much. In the end, Beginners is a very important story that more people need to see. It went under the radar upon release and I believe quite a few people missed it. Without much awards consideration, it still accumulated quite a few positive reviews. I think this is a very solid film worth checking out. With great writing for each character on-screen, some fine directing, and a premise that takes a few chances (even though not nearly enough), this is s piece of cinema worth checking out. I don't see myself ever coming to love this film in the future, but I would definitely consider a few viewings to revisit these likeable characters. Beginners is a solid watch.

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

½

This is certainly not a comedy (the sense of humor doesn't work that well), and I found it sad and depressing, contrary to those who thought it was sweet and optimistic. Besides, the characters seem too shallow in their artificial indie quirkiness and the dialogue is very annoying.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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