Beginners (2010)

# 09011 IMDb

Beginners (2010

Director: Mike Mills

Stars: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Mélanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic, Terry Walters

Comedy, Drama (1h 45min)


Rated 7.2 after 82,312 votes, 81% postive reviews on 31-Oct-18.

Won Oscar
Won Oscar. Another 23 wins & 15 nominations


It's 2003. Thirty-eight year old graphic artist Oliver Fields has just lost his father Hal Fields to cancer, after Oliver's mother Georgia Fields passed away five years earlier. Oliver is naturally a sullen man due to his growing up relationship with his parents (his mother who had a unique view on life) and watching his parents' cordial but somewhat distant relationship with each other, but is more so now because of his personal family loss. Oliver embarks on a relationship with Anna, a French actress. Oliver is hoping that his re-energized relationship with Hal following Georgia's death and Hal's new outlook on life during that time will show Oliver how to act in a loving relationship. After Georgia's death, Hal came out of the closet and began to live with a joie de vivre that did not exist before, which included an open relationship with a much younger man named Andy. Oliver's relationship with Anna has other obstacles, including Anna's own vagabond lifestyle and Oliver needing to take care of who was originally Hal's very needy Jack Russell terrier, Arthur.


Mike Mills (director) Ewan McGregor Christopher Plummer Mélanie Laurent Goran Visnjic Kai Lennox Mary Page Keller

Ewan McGregor (Oliver), Christopher Plummer (Hal), Mélanie Laurent (Anna), Goran Visnjic (Andy), Kai Lennox (Elliot), Mary Page Keller (Georgia), Keegan Boos (Young Oliver), China Shavers (Shauna), Melissa Tang (Liz), Amanda Payton (Party Person), Luke Diliberto (Green Witch), Lou Taylor Pucci (Magician), Bambadjan Bamba (The Sads), Hana Jane (The Sads), Samuel T. Ritter (The Sads), Jennifer Lauren (Record Company Rep), Reynaldo Pacheco (Julio), Jodi Long (Dr. Long), Bruce French (Dr. Wright), Leslie Shea (ICU Nurse #1), Michael Chieffo (Hal's Priest), Jennifer Hasty (Secretary), Rodney Saulsberry (1978 Museum Staff), June Sanders (1978 Fancy Woman), Catherine McGoohan (1978 Older Woman), Terry Walters (Terse Nurse), Lana Young (ICU Nurse #2), Algerita Wynn Lewis (Nice Nurse (as Algerita Lewis)), Regina McKee Redwing (Strict Nurse (as Regina Redwing)), Sunday Burke (Home Nurse #1), Patrick Birkett (Hal Look-Alike), Sabera Wise (Skating Rink Manager), Rafael J. Noble (Brian), Jose Yenque (Robert), T.G. Cody (The Primetimers), Patrick Scott (The Primetimers), Ton Suckhasem (The Primetimers), Charles Valentino (The Primetimers), Seth T. Walker (The Primetimers), Michael Laren (The Primetimers (as Michael Wilhelms))...

From the same director


Mike Mills (written by)

Produced by

Miranda de Pencier (producer), Fran Giblin (co-producer), Lars Knudsen (producer), Geoff Linville (co-producer), Joan Scheckel (executive producer), Leslie Urdang (producer), Jay Van Hoy (producer), Dean Vanech (producer)



Greetings again from the darkness. This is a terrific little art-house character study with comedic elements, fine acting and superb writing. Mike Mills is responsible and he was also the writer and director on another excellent little movie from about 5 years ago called Thumbsucker. When I say little movie, I mean intimate and poignant with a nominal budget.

Three time periods are presented in overlapping form to an effective end. One period shows us Oliver (Ewan McGregor) as a young kid interacting with his mother (Mary Page Keller). Another period shows Oliver's father Hal (Christopher Plummer) confessing to him that he is gay (this is a few months after the mother/wife dies). The third period has Oliver trying to forge a relationship with Anna (Melanie Laurent) whom he met at a costume party.

While that may sound like a simple set-up, I assure you that the complications created by these characters is both realistic and head-spinning. It turns out Hal knew he was gay prior to marrying Oliver's mother, but claims she promised to "fix" him. Once he proclaims his gayness, Hal jumps in with both feet to all causes gay. He thoroughly enjoys himself and even meets a new, younger lover. And just when he admits to joy, inoperable cancer is discovered in Hal's lungs. This begins the second major secret of his life.

The scenes from Oliver's childhood provide crucial evidence on why he is so solemn and afraid of relationships. He suffers just as his mother did. Things begin to shift for him when, dressed as Freud, his party sofa becomes occupied by Anna - a beautiful, alluring French actress who, it turns out, is just as messed up emotionally as is Oliver. They make the perfect threesome ... including Arthur, Hal's Jack Terrier, who speaking through subtitles, lets us know when things are OK or not. Arthur takes a great deal of the heaviness away.

There are many elements of this film that I really like. The houses of both Hal and Oliver are full of as much personality as either of the characters. The look and pace of the film is meticulous and steady given the material. It seems to be naturally lighted from windows and interior sconces. Nothing even comes close to looking like a Hollywood set.

Ewan McGregor plays his part very close to the vest and conveys the pain and uncertainty that Oliver has learned over the years. His defenses are up! Melanie Laurent was my favorite part of Inglourious Basterds (she was the cinema owner on a mission) and here she offers both hopefulness and melancholy. To me, the heart of the film is Christopher Plummer's performance. He portrays an elderly gay man with grace and then takes it to another level in his "sick" scenes. He is a wise man who may or may not understand how selfish he was, but is intent on showing Oliver that it's never to late to be a "beginner" in love.

Memorable quotes

Hal: I don't want to just be theoretically gay. I want to do something about it.

4 total 


The film is partly autobiographical: many of the events that happened to Hal and Oliver are based on Mike Mills' experiences when his own father came out as gay and began a homosexual relationship after Mike's mother died.

2 total 


Won Oscar. Another 23 wins & 15 nominations 
Academy Awards, USA • BAFTA Awards • Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards • Central Ohio Film Critics Association • Chicago Film Critics Association Awards • Chlotrudis Awards • Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards • GLAAD Media Awards • Golden Globes, USA • Gotham Awards • Hollywood Film Festival • Independent Spirit Awards • Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards • London Critics Circle Film Awards • Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards • National Board of Review, USA • National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA • New York Film Critics Circle Awards • Online Film Critics Society Awards • Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards • San Diego Film Critics Society Awards • Santa Barbara International Film Festival • Satellite Awards • Screen Actors Guild Awards • Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards • Toronto Film Critics Association Awards • Vancouver Film Critics Circle • Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards

Other titles

Beginners (France (imdb display title), Israel (alternative transliteration) (Hebrew title)) • Начинающие (Russia) • Assim é o Amor (Portugal (imdb display title)) • Beginners (Principiantes) (Spain (imdb display title) (Castilian title)) • Debiutanci (Poland (imdb display title)) • Oi protarides (Greece (imdb display title)) • Toda Forma de Amor (Brazil (imdb display title))



Rated R for language and some sexual content


Argentina:13 / Australia:M / Austria:6 / Brazil:12 / Canada:14A (Ontario) / Denmark:A / France:Tous publics / Germany:0 / Ireland:15A / Japan:G / Malaysia:18 / Netherlands:AL / Portugal:M/12 / Singapore:R21 / South Korea:15 / Sweden:Btl / Switzerland:7 (canton of Geneva) / Switzerland:7 (canton of Vaud) / UK:15 / USA:R (certificate #46522)



Added on


15,703 movies | 9,790 in HiDef | 250 of TOP#250 | 15,703 posters | 83,627 photos | 200,891 biographies