Tuesday, July 26, 2011

When They Begin The Begin

BEGINNERS is the my kind of summer movie.   It deals with love and death, but is never saccharine nor maudlin. 

And it boasts of two great performances from two great actors: Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor. Mr. Plummer has only been nominated for an Oscar once. A lot of people are saying that he may finally win for this film, and it will be well-deserved. I have always conjured this image of him as always being serious, stern, joyless. Perhaps this is from his role of Captain Von Trapp in "The Sound Of Music." But here he is 100% mirth. Playing a 75 year old man who, after being trapped in a (traditional) marriage, declares he's gay, he finds some sunny shadings in his performance. When he is diagnosed with cancer, he smiles, and says, "Well, let's not run out and turn the world."  That smile is a simple twitch: but it totally turns a scene that could have been drenched with all kinds of cliches. Ewan McGregor, in my opinion, gives his best performance yet. It is quiet, subtle, robustly melancholy. He feels like a mess, but he doesn't act a mess. His character deals with losses and loves he can't contain: his love for his father, his burgeoning romance with a French actress, his poignant relationship with the Jack Russell terrier his father left him behind. His performance is a study of sadness.

BEGINNERS is about different kinds of beginnings - a man's escape from a stifled self, a son venturing on a new life after the death of his father, a young man starting a relationship with a woman who may be the love of his life. It is also about a myriad of emotions. It is funny, sweet, sad, uplifting, all at once. It's life. 

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