The movie: “Beginners”
The shoe: Mystique multi-color beaded fringe sandal
Simple. That’s what love is supposed to be, right? I love you, and you love me. Happily ever after! The end. Unfortunately, everyone reading this post knows that this isn’t so, and the movie “Beginners” exemplifies the frustration, the confusion, and the triumphs of relationships. Ewan McGregor plays Oliver, a man who has yet to settle down and who doesn’t really know what he wants. After Oliver’s mother dies, his father, played by Christopher Plummer, comes out as gay. The narrative juggles Oliver coping with his father having terminal cancer, his father’s desire for a “new, gay life,” and falling for a pretty French girl named Anna (Mélanie Laurent) after his father dies.
The film is one of finding love, showing love, being in love. Oliver has trouble understanding how his parents’ relationship worked. His father tries to teach him the difference between loving someone and being in love with someone. He also tries to explain to Oliver that a person is never too old to find love.
The colorful Mystique sandals look deceivingly simple. But take a closer look at them. The fringe detail is actually made up of lots of tiny beads. The shoes are like the storyline of “Beginners”: Love for one’s family, friends, and significant others takes many forms and is comprised of more components than meets the eye. The characters are down-to-earth and realistic. They are relatable to everyday people, but also unique, just like these sandals. Every “love story” is special. However, none of them are flawless. Some of them are fringed around the edges, but in the end they are all beautiful in their own ways.
The movie’s sole purpose is not to be a huge political statement for gay rights, although the film does invest in the fact that our society needs a different perspective. The point of the movie is to show acceptance of different types of love. If a 75-year-old man who was married for 45 years (to a woman) decides to “come out of the closet,” put a personal ad in the newspaper, and date a much younger, more flamboyant man, that doesn’t mean he is any less capable of loving or being able to be loved.
McGregor’s character uses images and history to help himself relate to his current experiences. Oliver and Anna’s story is not a classic, linear Boy Sees Girl, Boy Asks Girl Out, Boy and Girl Fall In Love tale. Instead, Oliver’s relationship with Anna is shaped by specific memories of his father. The narrative blends these moments together very well, balancing each aspect of the storyline; it’s give-and-take, just like love.
Oliver’s father talks about the significance of the rainbow flag. He says that each color represented on the flag has a meaning: hot pink—sex; red—life; orange—healing; yellow—sunlight; green—nature; turquoise—magic; indigo—serenity; violet—spirit. While not all of these colors are used on the sandals above, their colors still exhibit the fact that shoes are a way for the person wearing them to express him- or herself.
Shoes are a way for people to show the world something about themselves. The love people give (and bring into) the world is another way — if not the strongest way — for people to show the world who they are. “Beginners” is a story that reminds us what is important in this world, and that in finding love, we discover more about not only ourselves, but also those around us.