Monday, November 7, 2011

Beginners

By Sati. Monday, November 7, 2011 , , , , , , , ,
60/100 (2011, 100 min)  
Plot: A young man is rocked by two announcements from his elderly father: that he has terminal cancer, and that he has a young male lover.
Director: Mike Mills
Writer: Mike Mills
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer and Mélanie Laurent

It's never too late

I find it amusing that this year we seem to be flooded with movies that insist into making life itself their protagonists, at the same time being mind numbingly dull. First we have the ponderous experience entitled "The Tree of Life". Now we have "Beginners" - a movie with the script so wasted, it borders on committing a crime. The story follows Olivier, sullen man approaching 40, who has just lost his father. Olivier spends his day talking to his father's dog Arthur and making his pretentious art entitled, wait for it, "the history of sadness". I felt bad for that dog - If I were him I'd run away from the owner like that - Olivier takes the phrase "being emo" and brings it to whole new level of nonsensical sadness, oh I'm lonely and I'm scared of commitment. Boohoo.
The script offers so much - very nice way of showing events, through small details in our lives - how pets look like in given year, what is considered to be pretty etc. The characters are all there - Oliver's father who comes out of closet at 75 and finds Young lover (Goran Visnjic acting as if his character was retarded, which I don't think was intention of the creators of the film), Anna, an actress who is moving from town to town and Olivier himself. Except for Plummer nobody has a clue how to play their roles - McGregor is trying as best as he can, but he is simply not good enough of an actor to pull this off.


Laurent is a disaster. Here is a character that is supposed to bring that magical spark, injection of life into picture. I saw "Henry's Crime" few weeks ago - very mediocre film but because of Vera Farmiga I will never forget it - she took quirky character and pumped it with so many vivid emotions you just fall in love with her.With Laurent you have a feeling she may fall and die in any second, for there is no life in her. Instead of casting someone like Farmiga, Rachel Weisz or Audrey Tatou who can be either lively, profound or adorable, they chose Laurent. She singlehanded made this movie into a snooze fest - looking at her nearly put me to sleep.
The whole story goes back in forth between the time Olivier's father Hal was alive and the time after he died. In fact, Hal is the only character in this whole movie you feel sympathy for - at least he has guts to do something with his life and even when he has a cancer he's not moping around, unlike his son who for some imaginary reason is on the verge of tears for the entire movie. I'd much rather see the film where Hal is the protagonist and we see events from his perspective. Plummer's performance and little Jack Russel dog made the experience of watching this movie fun at times. That dog has more energy and acting chops in it than most actors in this movie.

The title alludes to the fact that all of the characters begin something - Hal comes out, Oliver tries to overcome his fear of committing to someone, Anna finally decides to settle in. I suppose there is wisdom in the movie - that it is never too late for something new in your life. The message is lovely, the film is not.

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