Beginners [Blu-Ray] Mike Mills

Beginners [Blu-Ray] Mike Mills
For the sake of synopsis, Beginners is superficially about a nascent relationship between the contemplative, contradictory Oliver (Ewan McGregor) and free-spirited actress Anna (Mélanie Laurent), in relation to the death of Oliver's father, Hal (Christopher Plummer), whose announcement of homosexuality in his 78th year raised a number of questions. Primarily, for sake of narrative juxtaposition, the question of romantic bliss and whether it's an idealistic construct to mask the performance and compensation for protracted suffering, repression and complacency. Mike Mills' semi-autobiographical dramedy of sorts eschews the conventions of the rom-com without consciously or ironically doing so, instead taking a frank, idiosyncratic look at the complexities of relationship building when all we have to draw from is previous failure and the fear of being hurt. The distinction: it's honest, as are its characters. And Mills' perspective isn't particularly traditional, often breaking up sequences with stock photography and historical titbits to contextualize similarities and differences in time both superficially and thematically. When Hal receives the news that he's going to die because of a dime-sized tumour in his right lung, the image of a dime pops up on screen, much like images of death certificates and credit cards when Oliver describes, matter-of-factly, the practical handling of death. Peculiarities and plot devices aside, this is the story of a man struggling with intense feelings for an inspiring and intelligent woman, knowing that said intensity will fade and that he might push her away to avoid the associated pain, a notion mirrored by Hal's eventual death bed resignation. It's difficult to trust or divulge full sincerity when the possibility of rejection or mockery might wound the ego, much like it's hard to love when every moment isn't as passionate and whimsical as early explorations. These are contradicting, deeply human notions that Beginners handles with near perfection, adding a good dose of comedy, in the form of on-screen subtitles for a dog and spray-painted historical titbits about the invention of chicken McNuggets and Britney Spears Google searches. Few films capture what it's like to be a flawed and confused human being in the way this deceptively minor tale of present identity as a construct of the past does, which, in my books, makes it a memorable, worthwhile and necessary view. Included with the Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack is a short film about the making of the movie, which is far more personal than usual, showing Mills in his apartment discussing the writing process. There's also a feature commentary and a promo to round out the package. (Alliance)