Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - December, 2011


"Beginners" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Clements



This quirky story about a graphic artist named Oliver Fields (Ewan McGregor) is told from a first person perspective through a series of interleaved sub chapters from three major phases of Oliver's life - his childhood, the months after his mother's death and then the time going forward after his father, Hal (Christopher Plummer) passes.  Oliver's discordant childhood lays the foundation for his adult struggles.  Then after his mother passes, his father comes out of the closet and falls in love with a young, handsome partner, Andy (Goran Visnjic).  The last segment shows Oliver kindling a relationship with a free-spirited actress, Anna (Melanie Laurent).


  • Universal Studios
  • 2010, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 44 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Codec: AVC
  • 1080p
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent and Goran Visnjic
  • Directed by Mike Mills
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: No


I was afraid that this was going to be one of those hopelessly artsy movies that are painfully depressing.  I am pleased to announce that Beginners is not one of those movies.  To the contrary, I was fully engrossed by the characters.  They were very real and engaging even when they weren't always likeable.  Just like real people.  The movie does move along at a languid pace.  And many people in this day and age may think it's too slow for their tastes. But I didn't feel bored or disconnected at any point over the film's 104 minute running time. I feel that there should be fewer flash-back and flash-forward time jumps.  But in the end, this movie works on a lot of levels and makes a solid rental choice for a cold winter weekend.


The image pops on stills, daylight scenes and indoor scenes with abundant natural light.  Other indoor scenes are sparsely lit and looked borderline washed out.  But the video was generally decent with good detail, no obvious sharpness enhancements, undetectable compression artifacts and a natural color presentation.  The 5.1 DTS-HD Master audio is excellent with a lot of silence sequences that were very silent.  The musical score and dialog are quite well recorded.


This one-disc package has just a few special features - A Short Film About Making Beginners, Beginners Promo and a Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Mike Mills.  There is also a pocket BLU code in the case if you want to perpetually stream this movie off the cloud.