Beginners Blu-Ray Review

The Movie: 8/10
Beginners is one of those slow moving, thought provoking movies that tackles the human condition. The story revolves around Oliver (Ewan McGregor) as a 38 year old living in 2003, and dealing with the life that he has, no matter what is thrown at him. His father Hal (Christopher Plummer has just recently lost his long time battle with cancer, after Oliver’s mother has passed on. In the interim, Oliver learns that despite the long time marriage, his father is in fact gay, and now has decided to come out and live as an openly gay man.

As Oliver struggles with his father’s passing, he meets the beautiful Anna (Melanie Laurent). Anna is a French actress who is quiet and mysterious, and who Oliver finds solace as he spends time with her. Both have their own issues with intimacy and relationships, and we see the romance slowly kindle, only for their insecurities to drive them apart.

In Director Mike Mills presentation, we see real chemistry evolve between all of the characters. I was truly in awe at the performances of McGregor, Plummer, and Laurent, who really seemed to pour their heart into these roles, which means relying on a subtleness that made everything seem so real. A special nod should be given to Cosmo the Dog, who was lovable and an integral part of the movie, bringing a bit of humor to the sometimes sad film. The movie features a lot of unexpected flashbacks and backstories that are not overly explained, leading you to think, which I love in this type of story. To over explain would ruin the experience for the viewer, and Mills does a great job of making you work to figure out what is happening.

I thoroughly enjoyed Beginners, for it’s heartfelt look at some rough subjects. Death, failing love and sadness are a huge part of this movie, but in the end it is a great journey. Mill’s presentation is at times just quirky enough to make this feel fresh, and with the amazing acting, Beginners is a movie that I highly recommend.

Features: 3/10

  • A Short Film About Making Beginners –This is pretty much what you expect, as this is all about the making of the movie. This is a 15 minute long behind the scenes extra where interviews with cast and crew piece together the movie.
  • Beginners Promo –This is a 1 minute promo for the movie. I guess this is an extra, but not much of one.
  • Feature Commentary With Mike Mills –Mike Mills gives a pretty dry commentary about the movie. You can tell that he really was into making this movie, and that it is a labor of love, but this is not the most dramatic of commentaries.
  • Pocket Blu & BD Live –We also get BD Live extras, as well as the Universal Pocket Blu included here.

Cover Art and Menus: 4/10
The cover for Beginners features photos of the main characters, and not much else. It is stylish to a point, but it is also muted like the movie. The menu, which is a Universal standard, features the black background and scenes from the movie playing on the right hand side. This is the same format Universal always uses, so is is familiar, but not the greatest presentation ever.

Audio & Video: 7/10
The video for Beginners is very crisp, but just like the slow muted pace of the movie, the video coloring is very muted. We don’t get a lot of bright coloring, and the lighting is the same way. The result works,band adds to the realistic feel of the movie. The 1.85:1 VC-1 encode was decent. The audio left a bit to be desired. The 5.1 Surround Sound presentation was less than stellar. I thought the dialogue was way too low, and for some reason, very muffled. There is very little use of the rear speakers, and I was less than impressed with the clarity of the sound of the movie.

Value: 6/10
Beginners is a slow, thought provoking movie that is definitely worth a watch. There are very few who will want to watch this over and over though, and with a less than impressive extra set, the overall value for the Blu-ray is muted for me. I think this is a rental, and a highly recommended one at that, but you have to be a big fan of Ewan McGregor or this type of movie to want to own this one and watch it again and again.

Overall Score 7/10