Hey everyone, it’s time for another Musings Monday. I was really up in the air of what I was going to write about this week, since I have tons of topics written on a list that I want to cover, and it’s always so hard to choose just 1 to cover each week. This week I think I’m going to deviate from talking about things that are book related and talk about a really awesome movie I watched recently. I debated doing this topic, since it doesn’t revolve around books, but it’s so rare that I watch a movie I feel such a strong urge to talk about, so I think it’s meant to be. The fact that it’s been over a week and I’m still thinking about how much this movie affected me is a good enough excuse for me to write about it.
Netflix recently suggested me the movie Beginners (2010); written and directed by Mike Mills; starring Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, and Mélanie Laurent. This is a movie about a man, Oliver (Ewan McGregor), who’s mother had recently died of cancer and is torn apart by that and also by his father finally coming out to him as gay. Hal (Christopher Plummer), the father, has been gay his whole life, but, because of the era, stayed closeted and married Oliver’s mother. Hal also announces that he has taken a much younger lover. Oliver must deal with all these new issues on top of how having a closeted father his whole life has caused many intimacy issues for him, since he has never seen how a proper relationship is supposed to function. The movie follows not only Hal’s journey and Oliver’s journey to come to terms with who his father was, but also how this is affecting the most serious relationship Oliver has, potentially, ever been in with an actress he has met at a party, Anna (Mélanie Laurent), where he was dressed as Sigmund Frued and she is Charlie Chaplin (silent and all since she has laryngitis).
I know that was kind of a poor explanation, but there is just so much that is going on that it’s hard to fit it all into a single paragraph. To fully explain this plot I’d probably need about 10 paragraphs. But, I guess that’s kind of the point of the rest of my review. I know, I know. You’re probably wondering what a book nerd is doing reviewing film. Well, even though I read way more than I watch, I greatly appreciate good cinema. I’m not capable of analyzing all the little things that go into making a movie, but I am capable of reviewing what the movie made me feel and what my experience was.
So, this is my experience.
At first, this movie started out a bit strange, but I quickly accepted the format and let myself experience how the format of this movie enhanced how it made me feel. Mills was able to show the audience such a wide range of feelings and the audience was able to fully experience each one. This was not a one dimensional work; this was a multidimensional piece of art. Mills writes characters that are deep, relatable, and, most importantly, believable. I felt that even his side characters had dimension, and some of them barely spoke or didn’t speak at all. The main characters (Anna, Oliver, and Hal) experience such a wide rainge of emotions, and are often times incapable of dealing with the variety of them (such as fear, sadness, and loss) They are painted as fully human. I can’t get over how far down you could dig into each character’s personality.
Another thing I loved about the characters were their diversity: men, women, gay, straight, jewish, multiple races. This movie had a little bit of everything and I loved it. I also especially adored that each character was treated equally. Anna, Hal, and Oliver all had equal screen time and an equal amount of emotional trauma that they had to deal with. Mills shows how each character is dealing in depth – no skimmed corners around anyone. (I hope that made sense). Oliver, even given his past of emotional distance and not being shown proper intimacy, has a vast amount of emotional depth. He is dealing with his problems and is not forced to man up or hide how torn apart he is. Him and Anna both cry on multiple occasions – and they also get angry, and smile, and laugh, and yell. This movie is an up and down ride, but it’s definitely one worth taking.
I loved that this movie touched on such heavy topics so easily, especially the fact that Hal was gay and how much more alive he feels after coming out. Mills does not spare any feelings of his audience (not that he should) and gives Hal the storyline he deserves. There is so much that this man has gone through, and he is finally experiencing the intimacy he has been craving his whole life. Mills does a lot of flashbacks to (I believe it’s) the ’50s to show what society was like and why Hal chose to marry a woman. One line that really hit me hard was “My father traded in his gay badge when my mother traded in her Jewish badge.” That is a sacrifice that you know will not lead to a happy marriage. I’m not saying that Hal hated his wife; he just loved her in a way that could not be satisfying for anyone one involved.
I also really like that later Anna tells Oliver that she is Jewish and she does not have to “Trade in her Jewish badge.” Oliver lets her be who she is and doesn’t force her to make sacrifices. And, she does the same for him. This is how you know that Oliver has finally found a healthy relationship. He is finally experiencing what an equal romantic relationship is supposed to feel like, and that is one of the points this movie is trying to make, I believe. We also see Hal getting to experience the same type of thing. This movie is speaking out to how hurtful it is to hide who you are for the sake of someone else’s happiness or level of comfort and not your own. And, that is important. This movie is important.
I highly encourage everyone to watch this movie. It was so phenomenal. It takes a bit to adjust to the style that Mills chooses, but once you do, you will be able to experience this movie in a unique way that really gets across a good message. The directing was awesome, the movie was awesome, the acting was awesome, everything was awesome. I adore this movie. I might even buy my own copy, and I rarely buy movies. But, the best part is it’s still on Netflix! So if you have that, it’s easy to watch this.
If you stuck this out and read the whole thing, thank you. I hope I have swayed you to watch this movie. If not, that’s okay too. Please feel free, as always, to add/follow/chat with me on the following platforms:Tumblr, Goodreads,Instagram, Facebook. And, if you want to add me on Snapchat, just message me on any of the previously listed platforms, and I will give you my username.