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This is what love feels like. 

Year: 2010 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is expected to have certain elements which are subtitled, but it is not expected that the entire film will contain them. 
Directed by Mike Mills 
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Mélanie Laurent  
An image from Beginners

From the acclaimed director Mike Mills comes the gentle drama comedy Beginners. Told in medias res, it is arranged as a series of interconnected flashbacks, think - (500) Days of Summer.

Several months after the artist, Oliver Fields (Ewan McGregor) loses his father, Hal (Christopher Plummer) to cancer, he meets the unpredictable, cheeky, French actress Anna (Mélanie Laurent). However prior to his death, Hal was not the man that he lived the majority of his life as. Six months after the death of Hal’s wife and Oliver’s mother, Georgia, Hal reveals to his son his most well-kept secret; that he is gay, and was so for the entirety of his and Georgia’s 44 year marriage.

And so Hal charts a new course for his latter years. New life is breathed into him as he starts a relationship with a young man, surrounds himself with a group of gay friends and begins exploring his true sexuality (something that he never thought possible) – revelling in the opportunity to live openly without breaking his wife’s heart.

However he is soon diagnosed and succumbs to cancer – leaving Oliver his Jack Russell, Arthur, but also with a wealth of unanswered questions and confused emotions stemming from the implications of his father’s revelation. With Anna’s appearance however, Oliver is forced to confront these commitment issues.

Something should be said here about Arthur; he adds his own dimension to the film, not just because butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, but because he is given subtitles of his own that allow him to communicate - as asides - to the audience.

Beginners is the story of a person trying to deal with the complications of two relationships simultaneously, seeking closure and reflecting on the lessons that his father taught him in his last years, whilst also trying to forge and maintain a romantic relationship with a women who has father issues of her own.

They say that you can tell much about an author, or writer, from their works and that is certainly the case with Beginners (as the story is based upon the coming out, at the age of 75, of Mills' father). It is an optimistic and hopeful tale told with a cheerful and sometimes whimsical style, thus merely accentuating the deeper messages of love, bravery and hope.

Timothy Green

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Screenings of this film:

2011/2012 Autumn Term (35mm)