I always support almost any actor/actress who is going for a new position in filmmaking by watching their movies. Actors such as Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven), Mel Gibson (Braveheart) and Jon Favreau (Iron Man) have had their successes when the transition from performer to the one behind the camera came and now, it may be time for Jodie Foster (Silence of the Lambs) to shine as director (corrected: her first project was Little Man Tate. Thanks, @Trekscribbler). It is with this mindset that I went to see her third directorial assignment with “The Beaver”. Foster stars along with Mel Gibson to bring screenwriter Kyle Killen’s short story to life. It is hard to make out what “The Beaver” is at first impression; when I saw the trailers I thought it was a bizarre comedy-drama that I just knew I had to see. The film was delayed with its nationwide release date in light of the controversy between Gibson and his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva.
Walter Black (Mel Gibson) is the CEO of a toy company called “Jerry Co” and is married to Meredith (Jodie Foster) with two kids, Porter and Henry (Anton Yelchin and Riley Thomas Stewart respectively). Walter is also severely depressed man who had gone to all the treatments and therapy all to no avail. One evening, while Walter was on the verge of committing suicide, he comes up with a scheme that may allow him to communicate better; and this is to talk through a hand puppet that calls itself “The Beaver”. Things seemingly begin to get better as his company begins to pick up once more and Meredith and Henry become supportive of this unorthodox psychiatric treatment. But his son Porter proves as defiant as ever….
Remember that feeling you get when you try to swallow your breath? That feeling of ‘holding back’ what is really in your mind for the sake of keeping the peace? That feeling that you get when you bottle things up? Don’t you sometimes feel that you don’t deserve any of what you have? Well, this film goes into those thoughts and while it may go into them in a rather bizarre way, I thought “The Beaver” was somewhat successful in communicating what it wanted to. I remember an artist saying that being blunt and honest is a virtue, and while I cannot agree with this 100 %, I do see why someone would say such a thing. Keeping things to yourself and your thoughts of doubt can certainly push you to the point of depression; those thoughts may not necessarily be correct but sometimes one needs to cut loose to express himself.
This is where “The Beaver” comes in as an equivalence, director Jodie Foster comes out with a weird blend of drama and comedy to get this point across. The film is sometimes funny as it is just somewhat over-the-top with the way Gibson seems to portray the Walter Black character. There is a grim tone and mood to all its comedy, and in some ways, while things look good, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the film was also a little disturbing. Walter is a character who is in dire need for help, and failing everything he has tried, he made a self-help persona in the form of a puppet. This was an expression of how you can separate the good and the bad in yourself; Foster plays with the premise in an ambitious manner although truth be told many parts of the script lacked a certain credibility and honestly, it wasn’t too grounded in reality.
I suppose one needs to suspend disbelief to buy into the film. Myself, I took the premise as sort of a “allegorical/figurative fantasy” where something is expressed in a manner that is totally different. It is easy to buy into its premise though, as Mel Gibson was very convincing as the main character. Like him or not because of the controversies that surrounded his personal life, the man can act. He effortlessly goes from the Walter character and the “beaver” persona who has quite an amusing Australian accent. If you also look into his eyes, you see tons of emotion that is set to explode; I had no qualms believing that Walter was sick, and there were some moments that I felt that Gibson may have ‘bottled up’ a few other things himself the way he channeled his portrayal.
Most of the film is set in his relationship with his family. Jodie Foster may still be a better actress than director (hey, give her a chance) as she does come out with a performance that can arguably match Gibson’s. Porter is the one other thing that allows the film to have some breathing room; this is a son who fears that he may be becoming his father, and goes through lengths to avoid this from happening. Yelchin’s performance may be a little uneven, but I did like the way the subplot with him and Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) was developed by the direction. I liked the way the ‘beaver’ played a part in the Henry-Walter relationship, as it expressed the bond of a father and a young son, at its purest sense.
Not really sure how I feel about “The Beaver”. I liked it but I have to say that some scenes should’ve been better if they were a little more polished and I do have to say, some parts of the script were a little too much and overplayed some elements that it seemed to lose its footing. Thankfully, Mel Gibson had the necessary skill to pull it off, despite some areas that were too outlandish and a bit too hard to believe. To like “The Beaver”, I guess it may be necessary to fill in some blanks, and I have to admit I felt the climax was a little unsatisfactory. It does have a message of being able to help yourself; and that most of the time, acceptance of what you are is the biggest step to recovery. “The Beaver” is a decent film that earns a light recommendation for its boldness and ambition; I thought Foster did a good job as director.
** out of **** The Jodie Foster-directed drama "The Beaver" misses success because of its subject matter. You probably know what the film is about; a depressed father (Mel Gibson) finds a puppet beaver in a dumpster and develops a sort of alternate ego whenever his hand is inserted in the stuffed mammal's asshole. The beaver speaks in a British accent; and is smarter, more emotionally capable than Gibson's character ever was. This opens new doors for the character, although … more
THE BEAVER Written By Kyle Killen Directed by Jodie Foster Starring Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence The Beaver: Everybody needs a friend, Walter, and you’ve got me. Who does depression hurt? Everybody. Ordinarily, this would mean to include everyone directly involved with a person suffering from depression but thanks to Jodie Foster, now depression can also hurt everyone … more
What can I say? I'm a big fan of both Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster. I'd probably watched any movie by them as long as it's not perverted! The Beaver is a light movie about a heavy subject matter. I think as a movie goer (although I actually watched it downloaded through an app) we, at least I, won't choose any depressive material as subject matter. Hence, a movie about a depressed man could hardly be attractive enough to go to the cinema for, even if it stars both Gibson & Foster. It may just be … more
Star Rating: The great tragedy of The Beaver is that it cannot be taken seriously. It employs a first-rate cast and the performances are excellent, but the premise is such that (1) not even suspension of disbelief can work you through it, and (2) even if it could, the film doesn’t send an especially worthwhile message. I’m well aware that depression is real and that there are numerous ways to cope with it, but I don’t believe that the particular … more
'The Beaver' stars Mel Gibson as Walter Black/The Beaver. The movie is directed by Jodie Foster who plays Walter's long suffering wife Meredith. Walter, a once successful toy executive and family man suffers from major depression. No matter what he tries...(pills, therapy, exercise, flagellating himself) Walter cannot shake the feeling that life is meaningness and all is hopeless. This dude is really in the dumps. … more
The life of the troubled husband Walter Black proves that Jodie Foster could do much more as a director than anyone could think. She has the eye and the spirit for the job if she managed to turn a movie with a puppet into probably the best original drama of this year. Walter Black (Mel Gibson) is a depressed man who surrounded by monotony, daily routine, empty weekends, work issues and family disaster tries to find a way out of his pathetic and sad life, a life … more