Plagued by his own demons, Walter Black (Gibson) was once a successful toy executive and family man who now suffers from depression. No matter what he tries, Walter can’t seem to get himself back on track. After a failed, and somewhat comedic, suicide attempt he starts to get his life back on track with the assistance of a hand puppet named simply, The Beaver. Walter returns to his family and his company insisting that everyone address only the beaver claiming that it’s a new form of therapy. His son Porter (Anton Yelchin) grows increasingly ashamed of him and things start to spiral into a darker place once his wife Meredith (Jodie Foster) tries to ween him off of the puppet.
Director: Jodie Foster
Writer: Kyle Killen
Cast: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence
Jodie Foster introduced the movie at SXSW by saying that it wasn’t a comedy. While the film has some very funny moments, she is correct; it is far more than that. It probably goes without saying, the acting was superb. There is no denying Mel Gibson possesses raw talent, although he hasn’t flexed his acting muscles in a while, his performance in The Beaver is nothing short of admirable. Jodie Foster plays his wife and is able to convincingly play opposite Gibson’s quirky antics while maintaining a serious tone that doesn’t allow for the audience to do anything but follow her lead. Equal praise belongs to Anton Yelchin and Winter’s Bone star Jennifer Lawrence, whose angst ridden sub-plot complements the overall theme of the film rather than weigh it down.
The beaver itself is brought to life in such a skillful way it doesn’t at all feel gimicky. Mel Gibson’s cockney accent combined with his serious delivery help sell the puppet and thrust him into the forefront of the story. While Jodie Foster’s inclusion of the puppet throughout a series of true-to-life daily situations adds a sense of realism and forms a recipe for a comedic, yet believably serious film.
After such an entertaining and original film I found myself worrying how it would all end, since the story takes a few unexpected turns. Even so, they managed to pull off the darker shift without compromising it’s central theme or seeming too heavy-handed. In the end the movie closes with just as much energy as it began with, which is increasingly rare in today’s cinema.
It’s hard to find fault in a movie that played out so well. Though I may regret saying this after a second viewing (I highly doubt it), I can’t find anything I really disliked about the movie. The story hit all the right beats, the actors hit all the right marks, and Jodie Foster’s direction was entirely spot on – so who can complain?
The story is expertly crafted by newcomer, and Austin resident, Kyle Killen. The fact that this story made it into the hands of such a qualified director speaks volumes to the quality of the script. However this same script in the hands of a first time director or cast with newcomers would have undoubtedly have been a melodramatic disaster.
I spent some time on IMDB a moment ago to check spelling on the actors and writer, and I couldn’t help but notice a few of the threads on the title’s page. Believe it or not people have already formed their opinions about the film because of the whole Mel Gibson scandal last year, which is completely unfortunate and unwarranted. The Beaver is an absolutely wonderful film and missing it over that line of reasoning would be beyond foolish.
The Beaver gets an 8.5 out of 10.