The Beaver, 2011.
Directed by Jodie Foster.
Starring Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence.
After losing his job and his family a man develops an alternate personality, which takes the form of a beaver hand puppet.
Mel Gibson talking to a beaver puppet? Surely this had to be a bizarre documentary he filmed of himself at home. But no, this is The Beaver, directed by Jodie Foster.
The Beaver is based around the deeply depressed Walter Black (Gibson). Alienated from his family, Walter uses a beaver puppet to communicate through, in order to give himself a new identity and distance himself from his emotions.
This film owes itself to Gibson’s performance as he plays this double act to a tee. He creates a complex protagonist whose depression seems deep set and painful. He pulls on the audiences’ heartstrings as his character Walter watches his life fall apart.
Simultaneously Gibson portrays the character of The Beaver extremely well, making the children’s toy come to life. The Beaver’s voice is impressive as Gibson does his best Ray Winstone impression with a hint of dark undertones; an indicator of what is to come later on in the film.
It was also quite courageous of Gibson to play a mentally unstable person after the negativity expressed by the media about his own mental well being.
The use of the puppet manages to work surprisingly well at first and there are a few comical scenes with Walter, his wife and The Beaver in bed. Unfortunately the storyline becomes quite over the top towards the end of the film where The Beaver slowly morphs into a dependant personality, detached from Walter. I also found it a little unbelievable that so many other characters took The Beaver so seriously.
Jodie Foster gives a credible performance as Walter’s estranged wife, Meredith. Her utter desperation for Walter to get better provides a few tear jerking moments. Also Foster is proving to be a director to keep an eye out for, especially for taking on such an unusual project and making it come together so well.
A character which arguably could have had a smaller part or been left out of the script entirely was Walter’s teenage son Porter, played by Fright Night’s Anton Yelchin. Yelchin provided a flat performance of a stereotypical, moody teen who spends the entire film chasing after an equally moody cheerleader and hating his Dad.
The script also fell short in places, especially towards the film’s finale where lots of ends are tied in a cringe worthy Hollywood fashion, (keep your eyes and ears shut for the cheerleader’s graduation speech).
The overall feel of this film was that it was trying to be an edgy cult hit, which it appeared to achieve in the first few scenes through the use of a quirky voiceover from The Beaver. Unfortunately The Beaver gradually slipped into a predictable Hollywood script. Despite this The Beaver was an extremely entertaining watch and a triumphant, yet unexpected, comeback from the ever-eccentric Mel Gibson.