Life be­gins at 40

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies - LEIGH PAATSCH be­gin­nersmovie. com Now show­ing State Cinema

A BEAU­TI­FULLY un­der­stated piece of film mak­ing and a play­fully in­ven­tive style of sto­ry­telling are com­bined to great ef­fect in Be­gin­ners.

In his most com­plete per­for­mance in many years, Ewan Mc gre­gor stars as Oliver, a soli­tary graphic artist yet to sketch out where his life could be head­ing as he nears the age of 40.

Never known for be­ing the most ex­pres­sive or out­go­ing of peo­ple, Oliver ac­knowl­edges he has re­treated fur­ther into his shell as the movie starts. His fa­ther Hal ( Christopher Plum­mer, in­set) re­cently died after a lengthy bat­tle with can­cer, leav­ing Oliver with a heavy load of psy­cho­log­i­cal bag­gage.

It wasn’t that Hal be­lat­edly and proudly came out as a ho­mo­sex­ual at 75 years of age that threw Oliver so much. It came as more of a shock to re­alise that some­one could keep their real selves sup­pressed for al­most their en­tire life.

For rea­sons he is yet to un­der­stand, Oliver may well be hid­ing away from the world too – just as Hal did.

At this point, it should be stated that Be­gin­ners is no dreary drama about some­one work­ing through their dead-dad is­sues. The in­tri­cate flash­backs de­pict­ing the fi­nal phase of Hal’s life – as wit­nessed by a non­plussed Oliver – are won­der­fully warm and sin­cerely up­beat.

So too is the mid-film en­trance of Anna ( Me­lanie Lau­rent, pic­tured with Mcgre­gor), a mys­te­ri­ous French ac­tress who may hold the key to re­mov­ing Oliver from his self­im­posed vac­uum.

Some view­ers may find Be­gin­ners a mite too shy and re­tir­ing for their tastes but it is hard not to be im­pressed by the all-round skills of its writer - di­rec­tor, for­mer mu­sic-video wiz Mike Mills.

Ev­ery frame ex­udes both a quiet con­fi­dence and a re­fresh­ing ( for an Amer­i­can film, at least) re­spect for an au­di­ence’s in­tel­li­gence.

An important side note for lovers of great cine­matog­ra­phy: you will not fail to no­tice the ex­em­plary cam­era work of Dan­ish lens­man Kasper Tuxen here.

The minute vis­ual grace he adds to scenes of the grad­u­ally evolv­ing re­la­tion­ship of Oliver and Anna are just as important as any­thing the act­ing or di­rec­tion brings to the mix. Well worth a look.

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