If you expect more from cinema than just entertainment, then Beginners might be an interesting film for you to watch.
Centred on the character of Oliver (played by Ewan McGregor), Beginners offers us quite an unique view – through the story of its protagonist’s life – a brand new way to perceive and conceive things by subtly dealing with people’s interactions , facts and events that are bigger than life itself and common to a lot of us.
The strength of this film resides in its ability to successfully convey a very wide range of feelings leading to the most philosophical thoughts, mainly via a curious but effective reduction of whole concepts to pictures captioned with a very short phrase ; Ferdinand de Saussure’s notion of the signs, the signifier and the signified comes thus very quickly to mind, a process that we always do without even noticing.
And this can be clearly found especially at the beginning of the film when Oliver talks about his parents and the relationships he had with each on of them, and the evocation of love represented by pictures on unknown people kissing or hugging throughout different decades.
The idea of the picture standing for a thousands words is thus a bit destroyed but this is exactly the idea of the whole film, at least as I have perceived it.
The lives of Oliver and Anna are not paved with red roses and as complicated as they may seem to be ; why representing them as such ? After all, they are like us, a couple of human beings among millions.
There seems to be a great sense of modesty in this film. Or is it actually more related simply to its title ?
And here once again, I would say that the interpretation is well open although some elements should be taken into consideration ; the relationship between Oliver and Anna starting and taking a more meaningful turn at some point in the film putting representing them as “beginners! of a new stable kind of life after the unusual path they both started it with could easily be a good one , another element surely being these pictures and oral captions we are narrated by the protagonist actually looking like a children’s first book, like some sort life beginner’s book ?
Quite a few funny, light-hearted moments make the film take a more romantic-comedy like aspect ; and even these sequences are remarkably well introduced and perfectly well fitting the actors themselves especially for Mélanie Laurent and her sticking “Frenchness” which has been carefully brought out to its best thus greatly contributing in brining lightness and even sweetness to this film.
Curious fact = Mélanie Laurent is the daughter of Pierre Laurent who is the French voice of Ned Flanders in The Simpsons.