When I received the DVD for Beginners in the mail last week, I was out of my mind excited. After all, Beginners is one of my favorite films of the year. I couldn’t wait to check out the supplemental material and I’m glad to report the disc doesn’t disappoint.
First things first: the film itself. Mike Mills’ semi-autobiographical tale follows Oliver, played wonderfully by Ewan McGregor, at two very different times in his life. The first timeline follows Oliver’s time with his father Hal (an Oscar-worthy Christopher Plummer), who has recently been diagnosed with cancer and come out of the closet. The second timeline follows Oliver as he embarks on a romance with Anna (Inglourious Basterd’s Melanie Laurent), a French actress staying in Los Angeles. Oliver is kept company at all times by his faithful terrier Arthur. Continue reading for my full review.
Both situations test Oliver greatly. With his father, Oliver is forced to parent Hal, whose mortality only makes him feel more and more youthful. With Anna, the typically shy Oliver must operate outside his comfort zone to keep up with his incredibly outgoing companion. As could be expected, comedy and drama ensues.
Beginners says a lot about what we’re willing to do for the one’s we love, and despite its somewhat typical romantic plot, it never falls into cliché. Anna and Oliver’s “meet cute” works perfectly because of how well defined they are as characters. The movie also works so well because of great performances across the board.
The DVD also includes a commentary track, which I found to be fun, funny and informative. Only Mills speaks, but given that he’s the auteur of the film, it works great. He gives great insight into the writing, production and editing of the film, all in a loose and humble style.
There’s also a behind the scenes documentary that shows a lot of great candid moments from the film’s production. At a brief ten minutes, it’s absolutely worth your time.
Overall, Beginners is without a doubt one of the best films of the year. The DVD (or Blu-Ray) is a must-own for fans of the film or anyone looking for a glance behind the scenes of a great indie romance.