14 sept. 2011

My Review: The Beaver (8/10)

¨This is what I believe right now: there is someone who is with you, someone who is willing to pick you up, dust you off, kiss you, forgive you, carry you, love you. So while everything may not be okay, one thing I know is true, you do not have to be alone.¨

This is Jodie Foster`s first directorial film in the last 15 years and what a risky project she decided to undertake. First of all the subject matter: a depressed man living with a puppet in his hand isn’t exactly attractive for audiences; it`s a hard sell. And the second major risk she took was trusting Mel Gibson as the lead role after all the scandals that he has undergone in the last couple of years. He is not a likeable actor anymore and most people boycotted the film due to this. It doesn’t matter what opinion you may have towards Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster made the right decision by relying on her good friend Mel and he truly carries this movie. Gibson`s performance is easily the best one I`ve seen from any actor all year long. I doubt he will be recognized by the Academy due to all the negative press, but if there is any justice left in the world he should receive several nominations for his performance. He singlehandedly carries this film and brings a lot more depth to the dark subject matter the film addresses. He transmits so much depth to his character and you can clearly identify both his personalities: the depressed one and the one who is trying to recover while assuming the identity of the beaver hand-puppet. These split personalities are clearly manifested in the film and what could have been a total disaster actually works to perfection in The Beaver thanks to Gibson. Kudos to Foster for maintaining her faith in this great actor, despite all the differences we might have with him in his personal life.

Walter Black (Mel Gibson) was once a very successful businessman as he inherited a toy company from his father, he was also a very loving family man, he lived a happy life with his beautiful wife, Meredith (Jodie Foster), and his two sons: Porter (Anton Yelchin), and Henry (Riley Thomas Stewart). Everything seemed perfect, until Walter fell into a deep depression. All of a sudden he stopped caring about his work or his family and all he wanted to do was sleep. His un-involvement affected the company which is now nearing bankruptcy, and it also has affected his family: his wife working overtime to try to suppress the hurt of a missing husband, his youngest son becoming alienated from the rest of the boys at school, and his older son fearing he might one day become like his father and suffer from depression. Meredith decides it`s time to let Walter go before he infests his family even more. Walter heads to a hotel where he considers taking his own life, but something saves him: a beaver hand-puppet. Walter begins assuming a new personality as he talks as the beaver with an English accent and tells him he will begin a new treatment. Through the beaver Walter discovers that he can interact with his co-workers and friends, thus developing his own means of therapy. There is also an interesting side story involving Porter`s relationship with the school Valedictorian Cheerleader, Norah (Jennifer Lawrence). Norah asks Porter to write her graduation speech for her since he makes money off writing papers for his fellow classmates. Porter is good at assuming other identities just like his father has done with the Beaver. He fears these similarities he shares with Walter.

The Beaver addresses the issue of depression pretty well and takes it very serious. One might assume that an adult communicating through a hand-puppet would make for a comedy, but this is a serious dramatic movie and Mel Gibson delivers through a great performance. The rest of the cast is overshadowed by him, but I still was quite interested in the relationship between Yelchin and Lawrence`s characters. This side story worked really well for me, and it also allowed us to see how similar Porter really is to his father. Jodie Foster doesn’t deliver a great performance, but that is because her character isn’t really central to the movie. She did do a great job with the direction however and really makes this movie work. She took a huge risk, but she really made The Beaver work. It is a good movie and I absolutely recommend it despite the dark subject matter. It was a pleasure to watch Gibson`s performance and this reason alone is more than enough to watch The Beaver. I think that if we were talking about an unknown Gibson, critics would be praising his performance. Sometimes it is necessary to remain unbiased as a critic and judge the performance on its own. This is a really good movie and one that should be seen.

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