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Beginners | 2011 | R | - 7.3.6

The story of a man (Ewan McGregor) who has to come to grips with his father's (Christopher Plummer) terminal illness while still dealing with his feelings about his father's recent revelation that he is gay and has a younger lover. Also with Melanie Laurent and Goran Visnjic. Directed by Mike Mills. [1:44]

SEX/NUDITY 7 - A woman and a man kiss passionately and sex is implied; we later see them lying in bed, the man's bare chest is partially visible, the woman bites the man's arm gently then kisses it, she gets out of bed, and her bare back and a shadowed profile of one of her bare breasts is visible as she puts on a robe. A woman straddles a man, she kisses him passionately and pushes him down on a bed; sex is implied.
 A woman and a man are seen lying next to one another in bed, and the woman gets out of bed; we see her bare back and a portion of the side of her breast as she pulls on a shirt. A man and a woman are seen lying on a bed, fully clothed. A man is seen getting out of bed; he is wearing a shirt and boxer-style underwear. A woman wears a loose fitting robe and a portion of her cleavage is visible. We see a portion of a man's bare chest as he opens up his button-up shirt. We see photographs of women in one-piece swimsuits and men in bathing trunks. We see a magazine cover held by a man; two shirtless men are on the cover, and one's bare back and the other's bare chest are visible. A boy and his mother are seen looking at a painting of a nude man and a nude woman; full frontal nudity is visible in the painting.
 A man and a woman sit close to one another on a bed, the woman tousles the man's hair and they kiss, holding one another's faces; the woman asks the man if they can "just sleep" and we later see the man waking up, fully clothed in the bed.
 A woman shows a man a photograph of a man and a woman having sex: the woman is on top of the man and they both appear nude, the man's bare chest and the woman's bare back are visible; the woman tells the man that she would like to try that sexual position, and they then discuss the various (unseen) sexual positions in the book.
 A man and a woman share a lingering kiss and the man pulls away. A man and woman hold hands and kiss as they walk. A man has a flashback of himself and a woman kissing. A man leans down to kiss a woman lying on a bed. A man kisses an older man on the cheeks, and then the lips. A man and an older man kiss and then hug. A woman kisses a man on the cheek. A man experiences flashbacks as a young boy, seeing his father kiss his mother on the forehead and briefly on the lips. We see a variety of photographs of men and women kissing on the cheek and kissing on the lips. Two men hold hands. We see a man with his arms around another man's shoulders. Two men walk with their arms around one another. A man and a woman hold hands. A man puts his arms around a woman's shoulders. A woman jumps on a man's back and he carries her. A man rests his head on a woman's chest and the woman gently lays him down on a bed. Two men dance.
 A man tells another man that he had attempted to have sex with the man's father and tries to explain how; the man looks uncomfortable while hearing this, the other man asks him if he had ever had sex with a man, he says he had not and the two men hug. A man's voiceover explains that his father had told him that he was only able to have sex in bathrooms and describes the risk of being arrested due to homosexuality being illegal at the time. A woman reads aloud a personal ad placed by a man's father that includes vaguely graphic descriptions of his sexual preferences. A man asks his elderly father if he and his mother had sex, his father responds that they "made do" and then says that his mother probably thought he was a bad lover. A man tells his son that he used to stare at the husbands of women while at parties.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 3 - A man tells another man, "He's gone" and we see the man press his head against the chest of his deceased father; the man cries loudly. We see two men crying as they watch a man lying on a hospital bed.
 On multiple occasions we see an elderly man lying in a hospital bed with a tube coming out of his mouth and an IV attached to his arm; the man is seen struggling against the tube in his mouth and we see a nurse having to restrain the man's wrists to prevent him from pulling out the tubes going to his nose. An elderly man is seen in a hospital bed; he has an oxygen mask on his face and we later see a doctor telling him that he has a tumor in his lungs, which has spread to his liver and lymph nodes. A doctor advises a terminally ill man that they can try a course of treatment but not surgery, since his body is already so weakened from illness. A doctor tells an elderly man that they will stop treatment for his cancer in order to no longer prolong the pain.
 An older man clutches his stomach in pain and another man leads him to a sofa and gives him oxygen. A man gently slaps his son in a half-joking fashion.
 During a pantomime where a woman is acting as though she is her father, she tells a man that he (she is speaking as her father) keeps thinking about killing himself; the man tells the woman that it is not something he wants to speak about.
 Several men watch movie footage where a man's body is on a gurney, covered with a sheet and wheeled away as the narrator explains that the man had been assassinated. A man's voiceover explains that two men came to pick up the body of his father and took it to be cremated; we briefly see a tin that is identified as containing a man's ashes.
 We hear a man's voiceover saying that his mother had died of cancer after suffering for three months and now his father had died of cancer. A man tells a woman that his mother and father had died, and he tells her that his mother had died five years earlier and his father just months ago.
 A woman shouts at another woman in French (not translated).
 A woman pantomimes shooting a boy with her fingers in the shape of a gun, the boy slumps over, the woman tells him he could do better, "shoots" him again and he falls over dramatically. A woman pantomimes shooting herself in the head when a man asks the woman about her father; we later learn he is not dead, he just frustrates her. A woman jokes with a man that she will have to kill him, she pushes a pillow over his head and pantomimes shooting him with her finger in the shape of a gun. A man jokes that he will have to kill a woman because he is falling in love with her. An older man reads aloud a story about Jesus dying as an older man and he jokes with his son that the original way that Jesus died was "too violent." A woman jokingly tells another woman that her son's appendix had ruptured and they had to leave an event (the boy is unharmed).
 A man sketches various morbid pictures, including a stick figure being hanged and a person's decapitated head lying on its side and a stick figure being crushed by a rock. We see a subtitle of what a dog is thinking, warning a man to tell a woman that the darkness surrounding people is about to drag them into the ground.
 A woman shouts and laughs when a man drives their car onto a sidewalk. A man shouts and laughs when a woman surprises him in a hallway.


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LANGUAGE 6 - About 12 F-words and its derivatives, 5 sexual references, 1 scatological term, 1 anatomical term, 1 mild obscenity, name-calling (crazy, idiot, silly, strange girl), 11 religious exclamations.


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SUBSTANCE USE - Several men are seen drinking on various occasions, including in a hospital room when they are told that drinking is not allowed, we see a man with a drink in front of him at a bar, and men and women are seen having alcoholic drinks at a party. A woman is seen smoking a cigarette on two occasions and we see another woman with packages of cigarettes around her but not smoking, we briefly see old advertisements for cigarettes including drawings of people smoking, a man's voice over says that a woman would confuse straws for cigarettes and would try to smoke straws, a man uses a pipe as a prop, and we see a woman put a prop pipe in her mouth. A man teases his father by telling that he is "stoned" when the man is on prescription medication, we see a man administering and dispensing prescription medication to his father on multiple occasions, and we see a drawing of a spilled glass that is identified as being alcohol.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Catharsis, coping with change, death of a parent, depression, discrimination against homosexuals in the 1950s, discrimination against Jewish people in the 1950s, family secrets, historical consciousness, stage four cancer, Harvey Milk, denial, depression, Gilbert Baker, gay rights, The Velveteen Rabbit, hospice.

MESSAGE - Grief and acceptance are very difficult emotions.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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