Beginners Film Analysis

Beginners is a film based on facts from Mike Mills’s biography. He is California born film director, graphic designer and screenwriter. His most famous works include this film and the other comedy drama Thumbsucker released in 2005. Beginners is the American film and it was released on September 11th, 2011. The genre of the film is the drama with the elements of comedy and melodrama because it contains funny moments with the heroes, but the general plot is about the life-changing decision, love, changes and death. After his wife's death, the father of the protagonist Oliver tells his son and all the others that he is gay and he has always been. The old man finds a young lover, fundamentally changes the clothes and feels quite happy. However, lung cancer reduces the amount of his happiest years and he dies. Once, at a party, Oliver meets a charming girl Anna, who has her difficulties, problems, and sadness. They want to start the new life together. The film has an 81 score on, which is a good result. Most of the peers in their reviews agree that the purpose of the movie is not to understand why people have such emotions and to understand the problems of the protagonists. The main point peers argue in their reviews is the well-made combination of dramatic moments and comedy, which is touching and easy to understand. Another thing mentioned in reviews is the absence of any infamous action and oversaturation of the storyline, despite the fact that at the same time it makes viewer to think, empathize and sympathize with the main action figures. 



There is no strict and straightforward plot in the film, so the script is a reflection of the protagonist. The film develops a nonlinear view on the life of Oliver, who is a narrator. The protagonist has experienced few unsuccessful relationships, and then amazing French woman Anna appears in his life. The story in the film goes in parallel: the life of Hal and Oliver after his father's acceptance of homosexuality and the life of Oliver and Anna after father`s death. The first turning point of the movie is the acquaintance of Anna and Oliver at the costume party. The second turning point is when Hal dies and Oliver begins to realize how important his father was to him. The inciting point of the film occurs when the father makes coming out and then appears the long story of Oliver`s relations with father. The climax of the film is that the hero finally concludes that it is time to stop being afraid to love and be loved because it is never too late to change the life, an example of what has become his father. The resolution in third act is the reunion of Oliver and Anna in L.A. when they decide to continue their relationships and forget the past. The stories go smoothly and accurately without a feeling of confusion. The story of Hal ascribed in the 2000s when Georgia is no longer alive. Two good, decent, close to each other persons - and their lives flowing as two parallel rivers. The director separates this two stories to show the two sides of Oliver`s live, two contrasts and two influences. Moreover, Hal does not appear in the episodes with her wife because he is not with her: he is gay and he just pretend to be there, with his beloved. 


Many events occur in the home of Oliver, which causes a mixed feeling of boredom, sadness, and embarrassment. The atmosphere of gloom and darkness causes sad feelings and tells the story of the life drama of protagonist. If we talk about the main character, he has the ordinary hairstyle, wears casual clothes. Everything points to the simple fate of the hero and makes the character closer to a viewer. Another point, which is important, is the moment at the party when Oliver wore the costume of Sigmund Freud. This underlines the uncovered conflict within the character and shows him at the same moment as smart, funny and intellectual. The effect of the costume party also shows another point that everyone wears the mask in his life and this only complicates their life. This could be referred both to Anna and to Oliver, who hide their true personality and do not accept themselves. It should be mentioned also the role of the yellow color in Oliver`s office, because the yellow color shows the loneliness of the main character, especially when he works in such a large and empty space. Father looks as the usual old man at the beginning, but after his confession, he turns into a light character with a bright wardrobe and met death in a light mood. As for Anna, film director also portrayed her as a simple girl: she dresses stylishly, but not expensive. In general, an image of a very cute woman and virtually all of its prehistory suggests further rapprochement with Oliver. The light in the scenes with Anna also remained subdued, leaving room for intrigue and frankness. 


The director with the changing light during the film shows that everything is changing, and the standards of beauty, and presidents, and the attitude towards gays. Another trick, which Mills used to argue the main idea of the film is the succession of slides showing what the stars were then and what they are now. Therefore, the camera in the film serves as a travel machine, which shifts from one moment of history to another. Filming over the shoulder is quite common technique. Mills uses a wide-angle lens when shooting over the shoulder of the protagonist, creating an effect when the protagonist seems larger than the other characters, thus creating the effect of dominance. This trick works perfectly. Mills also integrates a series of frames with multiple characters in one long plan without bonding, in which the camera and the actors move in such a direction that we see the transition from a general plan for a major, the footage over his shoulder to the general and back. The director manages to fit that in a long shot without editing and the actors in this time walking, talking and doing something. Camera movement after the recessive character: for example, Oliver decides something, he turns his back and goes to carry out the decision. We accompany him from the back, and this shows the trajectory of his volitional impulse stretched in time. This movement of the camera that shoots the walk of the hero may mean the rejection of his claims, his tragedy. As a rule, the movement is preceded by certain event and the movement of the camera completes it.


Mills shows the extraordinary power of the personal recovery using the montage to show inspiration, new life image combining four different angles. This includes points of view on the figure dividing a portrait into four frames: the overall plan, figure to the knees, a figure to the waist, a close-up view of the head. The impression of movement, life, and monumentality is achieved gradually by moving the point of view from the top to the bottom, as the enlargement of the scale. No less interesting is the analysis of the cinematic composition when his father confesses he is a gay. Scaling of his face and light that falls on his face creates an atmosphere of recognition and surprise. Cutaways, in this case, was a frame that featured amazement of Oliver, which displays shock of the viewer. The rhythm in the movie allows the viewer to control audio-visual stream, forming disparate pieces into a whole picture. In the Beginners, dynamic, short phrases suddenly give way to a monologue, in a long paragraph to change the rhythm and scene. Patches of humorous dialogues change the rhythm of the film and shift the focus from the drama of the main characters. Mills differentiates the story by time categories and integrates them within the personal stories of the characters. The pace shows a temporary exclusivity through the show in elaborate mise-en-scene and its color tones, structure, and sound effect. For example, the scene with Oliver and Anna when they decide to start their relationships again is slowed down, and the dramatic music creates the atmosphere of the turning point. In addition, Mills compares the reality of each of different periods with their own perception and their edited pieces of documentary episodes create the time pressure and specific continuity in the movie. The continuity in the film is achieved with the internal rhythms of different images, with the proper "cutting" frame. This internal flow is associated with the flow of time, a direct perception of time, which exists and is materialized in the frames; and like any dynamic mass, the flow of time passes the viewer through momentum. The different continuity is used in the movie to show different life periods and the effect of flow is best described in the scene with the stars and presidents, underlying that everything changes.


In this film, non-diegetic sound expresses the feeling of rhythm. The author sets the slow pulse to underline the drama of the heroes. The emergence of sad songs in this context focuses on the moment to provide sensory-dimensional experience. Diegetic sounds start sound communication as a voice of heroes create not only the volume of the film but also the unique atmosphere of tragicomedy when a saturation events and memories are filled with the voice of the narrator, while using the dialogue with the audience to create a silence and space for emotions. Music that makes all vicissitudes in the film transforms just a hilarious comedy with talking dogs into a piercing drama with a mountain of pills and tubes in the nose. Frivolous Stardust and Everything's Made for Love unexpectedly replace Pools of Blue and Buddy Bertrand's Blues No. 1. Diegetic sounds make the movie very fragile and touching in the sense of personal feelings. Despite the fact that the basic idea of the tape is that it is never too late to start a new life, music underlines tragedy and nostalgia. Perhaps the sadness that so persistently tries to portray the protagonist is a true musical leitmotif Beginners. Sadness with the sounds of String Quartet No. 2 in G Major Op. 18/2, representing vitality to the last breath of the old father. The sadness of Oliver with Veronica's Blues who does not hesitate to spare himself and to savor the feeling. Anna sadly, under the sounds of That Da Da Strain, lost confidence in humanity, escaping from city to city. Even the dog furiously whines who is not sad at all.


Beginners is a mild form of arthouse, not burdened with all sorts of the symbolism and the different charms of the genre, such as dinosaurs, meteorites and talking wolves who like Terrence Malick and Lars von Trier. Their place was taken by lovely slides about the stars, the sun, beauty, pets, and the presidents of the different eras. Add to this the topic of homosexuality, eccentric relations, a considerable amount of pleasant conversations. Beginners is a non-intrusive story of people who love, make friends and just believe in a positive outcome. Mills interweaves the characters in the narrative outline with easy and accurate strokes. He filed the story itself with the warm, soothing light, with no violent outbursts. With easy-going, but consistent plot the characters experience a revival, new hopes, like the first warm rays of the sun illuminating and warming their lives. While doing the essentially autobiographical film, the director was able to give his creation a sad charm and fascination with the help of jazz and classic music and brilliant acting. This sentimental, romantic, easy, airy, light-melancholic lacks only the vivid emotional outbursts, but fortunately, it is perfect without happy pink snot and intrusive moralizing.

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