Beginners is about learning to fall in love again after you’ve gone through a lot of past pain in your life.
You can get a little jaded in life when you hit 38, like the main character Oliver is. He’s a creative guy it seems who’s never been able to hang onto a women. Various reasons and situations occur in life and for a lot of us we never find our true love. And when you’ve approaching 40 like Oliver is, he’s gone through so much pain, it’s really hard to plunge again into a new relationship.
The same goes for his new girlfriend Anna. She’s also been through a lot of pain too, which makes her good at her career as an actress, as she’s able to plunge back into her past wounds to play a character. She likes Oliver, but it’s tough for her to go all the way with him because she’s scared.
Oliver and Anna are good people. That’s why they are easy to follow in this movie. You definitely want them to stay together because there is an obvious connection. But they are wounded people trying to recover. The problem is that they are still trying to recover from their past wounds while attempting to deal with their current wounds.
Both of these characters have had a lot of pain that deals with love. Anna’s father keeps calling her to try to deal with his problems. She loves her dad but he brings her so much pain and insecurities. So it’s almost impossible for her to deal with a new relationship in her life.
The story structure of Beginners is Oliver’s three main relationships told to us in separate times in his life:
The first one (and perhaps the main one as that’s how they are promoting the film) is Oliver’s relationship with his father who is dying of cancer. He’s also out as a homosexual at the tender age of 71. His dad is going to die and Oliver spends his remaining days with him. Oliver learns that his dad has lived most of his life as a lie and now he’s living free for the first time. Of course he doesn’t have much time to live.
The second story is Oliver’s relationship with his mother when he was a child. His mom is a damaged woman because she knows she married the wrong man. She’s a very sexual woman who’s never able to show her sexuality because she is trapped in a marriage to a gay man. Oliver and his mom have a loving and interesting bond together. Oliver knows she’s very sad and of course is too young and inexperienced to really help her. This storyline never really got fully completed and some could argue is the only real flaw in the movie.
The third story is Oliver’s current relationship with Anna. How Oliver’s past wounds with his parents is affecting his present. He deserves to be with Anna, but is too scared to really plunge into it. And Anna has her own issues too. Welcome to 21st century dating!
Beginners is a solid film. It’s filled with humor and sadness all the way through and because of that you’re engaged throughout.