ARTYFACTS: Beginners - ill-formed and laboured

Monday, August 01, 2011

Beginners - ill-formed and laboured

A listless, tired movie about Oedipal relationships, complete with fancy dress Freud (just in case you didn’t get it). Let’s admit that Freud is dead (conceptually), and all that ‘four people in a relationship’ stuff has had its day. Oh and there’s also dollops of eros and thanatos, just in case the Oedipal stuff doesn’t get through. OK, maybe I’m in denial, so what about the performances?

Where to begin? First up, the phony relationship with the French actress (tempted to say clichéd), has no depth. She’s scripted to be enigmatic but ends up tedious and annoying. But she’s nothing compared to the Dad’s lover, who’s as flat and wooden as a parquet floor. Christopher Plummer makes the best of a bad role, namely a terminally ill, finally out of the closet man, who laughs at death. The mother looked the most interesting of them all, but we got little from her in the flashbacks, just some bohemian set pieces and think about it – the dad lied to her until the day she died. McGregor’s accent also slips badly in one of the bedroom scenes, where he sounds as Scottish as my mum.

Then there’s the cute dog stuff, with subtitles, that brings a Disneyesque dimension, and I don’t mean that in a kind way. It’s just bad film making, all tell and no show. As for the cuts to coins, colours and objects, that’s like getting ‘hundreds and thousands’ on your ice cream; colourful but in bad taste. As for the graffiti idea – plain embarrassing. This mess of a movie is ill-formed and laboured.


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