Sometimes, I think it's a miracle that I make it to see any movies at all. I frequently see previews for movies that look interesting, resolve to see them, and then either procrastinate, have trouble finding someone to accompany me, or simply lose the motivation to get out of bed early enough to catch the cheaper early morning showings, and end up missing the film's theatrical run. Even though I've managed to make it to eleven movies so far this year, when my annual goal is to see one a month, there are still several movies that I managed to miss, like Potiche, a campy French comedy starring Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu.
Still, I was glad that I was able to make time this weekend to meet up with Lauren and see Beginners, the latest Ewan McGregor movie. Though I might have had a huge crush on him circa 2001 when he appeared in Moulin Rouge (I am, after all, a sucker for musicals), my motives for catching this particular film were actually rooted in my desire to see the super-cute dog depicted in the preview I saw a couple months ago. Nowadays, adorable dog > man candy, which might just be the influence of being in love with a handsome fellow of my own.
The performance by Cosmo the Jack Russell Terrier as Arthur was, predictable, the best part of the film. In the weeks surrounding the film's initial release, I read an interview with McGregor in which he discusses the traditional Hollywood wisdom never to costar with a kid or a dog. He said he always thought it was because they were difficult to work with, but now, after seeing a cut of the film, he realized it was because they always upstage you. He was, without a doubt, correct.
The plot of the film tells the story of Oliver, who copes with the death of his father who only recently came out of the closet at the age of 75 following the death of Oliver's mother, while falling in love himself and integrating his father's dog into his life, and it is by turns heartbreaking and hysterical. The performances are nuanced and believable, though at times the entire film feels like it's trying too hard to capture a hipster aesthetic, from the characters' overly quirky hobbies to their relentlessly trendy wardrobes. The film is enjoyable though, and presents a unique story that is worth experiencing, but in the end, the movie is really all about the dog.
Arthur communicates with McGregor's character in subtitles that cut to the heart of what the film is trying to portray. Arthur's one-liners are, by-far, the most memorial lines of the entire film, and inspire some "Awwww!" moments that are almost unbearably cute. I've never seen such a scruffy Jack Russell in my life, but his eccentric look only serves to further capture the vibe of the movie, and somehow makes him even more adorable. Jack Russells are way too hyper for me, and I'd never want to own one in real-life, but Beginners sorely tempted my resolve.
Seriously, Beginners is an interesting study of one man's unusual life circumstances, but if you are at all a dog person, I suggest you see it if only for the moments of canine brilliance. You won't regret it.