Today: May 22, 2024

Beaver

Mel Gibson is a good actor. Whatever the truth about his personal life, it isn’t relevant to that fact, and The Beaver features one of his best performances to date.

Mel Gibson is a good actor. Whatever the truth about his personal
life, it isn’t relevant to that fact, and The Beaver features one of his best
performances to date
.

He plays Walter Black, a
deeply troubled soul caged deep within a hardened shell of depression. His wife Meredith (Jodie Foster) has lost all hope of rediscovering the wonderful man
who she married, having struggled through years of Walter’s ever increasing
moroseness. She kicks him out, and
of course that has no positive effect on poor Walter’s state of mind.

Enter the beaver. In a scene both hilarious and
sensitive, Walter finds himself incapable of committing suicide and is finally
talked out of it by… himself!
Strangely drawn to an old hand puppet, Walter begins conversing with
himself via the furry toy, and Gibson’s performance makes this potentially
ludicrous turn of events seem not only plausible, but entirely convincing.

Jodie Foster also
directed the picture, and it is her first effort behind the camera in sixteen
years, much of which time she must have spent practising! The story unfolds with a mature mixture
of heartfelt respect for families torn apart by mental illness, coupled with a
healthy injection of humour and wit.

Anton Yelchin plays Walter’s son Porter, and proves himself, once again, as a
fantastically talented young actor.
Hard as he tries, Porter finds it impossible to rid himself of his
father’s every mannerism and trait, as he fights to escape the shadow of a dad
who, to him, seems pathetic and helpless.
Yelchin comfortably handles this complicated character and clearly has a
big career ahead of him.

Gibson’s soulful and
naturalistic portrayal is likely informed by his rumoured personal battles with
depression, but whatever his method, he dominates the screen and makes you feel
Walter’s pain. Being something of
a shunned name in Hollywood these days, his turn here is unlikely to get the recognition
it deserves, but it certainly is one of note.

The film has a
distinctly European flavour to it partly thanks to the darkly playful score by Marcelo Zarvos, characterised by its
accordion tangos, but also due to the crisp and summery cinematography by Hagen Bogdanski, which helps to lend the
heavy themes a softer, more digestible quality.

Inevitably the plot is
tainted with some measure of Hollywood cliché, and particularly later in the
film some strands of the story risk getting lost in the realms of wishful
thinking. However as a whole the
tale rings true, the finale for example being far from as pat as it could have
been, and for that writer Kyle Killen
and director Foster deserve credit.

Killen’s ingenuity lifts
The Beaver way above the cesspit of films full of trite and obvious metaphors,
and without preaching delivers a timely message about accepting the unexpected,
not judging the apparently strange, and however painful making the effort to
keep your family under the same roof.

To Pre-Order The Beaver On DVD Click Here

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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