This is a movie with great potential, but a lack of substance. Directed by Mike Mills and starring an all-star cast, this film pins itself to be edgy yet nostalgic (a difficult combination to pull off from the start).
The main character, Oliver (Ewan McGregor), is at the start of a relationship while staring back to his childhood and the past few years in an effort to learn more about himself.
Certain character reactions in the relationship feel real, but their explanations for these reactions did not match what I visually believed they were thinking (which, realistically, it never should be explained at all).
"Beginners" is a very stylistic film which serves as a benefit and a disadvantage. There are several great "visual aids" on the screen to help translate inner thoughts, and I thought it was quite clever to give subtitles to the blank stare of Oliver's dog "Arthur".
These "visual aids" and stylistic happenings also happen too frequently, and the movie would have been much better if it had ended directly after one of them (rather than continuing for another 15 minutes).
Casting was pretty great, and the movie is almost worth watching for Arthur the dog and Christopher Plummer's character who has recently revealed to his son that he is gay (a very comical reveal), but there are enough characters who look miscast for their roles (specifically the oddly tall boyfriend to Plummer) that it is a difficult problem to overlook.
There was also no need for vandalism in the film (particularly the open acknowledgement that it was wrong). Though the things they spray-paint on the walls were quite ironic and humorous, that's all that it is. Nothing more. Nothing less. It was simply a meaningless distraction from the plot.
Though the movie has a fun "independent" soundtrack and appearance, the movie feels like it doesn't know what it is or which direction it really wants to go down.
My ranking: 2/5 stars