Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Beaver

Year: 2011
Director: Jodie Foster
Cast: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence

Plot: A man suffering from depression uses a puppet beaver to communicate with people.

Review: On the surface, the premise of The Beaver might be a hard sell. One would wonder, just how long can a story about someone talking through his hand be interesting?

Thankfully, Jodie Foster, who directs and acts, manages to keep the film going without a dull moment in sight. It's funny when it needs to be and sad when it calls for it. The idea of depression isn't an easy one to handle, but due to Foster's direction and Mel Gibson's solid performance, this film works well if you let it.

Gibson is Walter Black, the boss of a toy company who has somewhat died inside and is lost on how to handle it. This puts him at odds with his wife and two sons, particularly the older one, Porter (Yelchin) who is trying his best not to be like him. Everything changes when Walter finds the beaver and talks through him with a Ray Winstone like voice complete with an accent. It works at first, as he was rarely able to speak to anyone with enthusiasm before this. But just how long does this last?

Gibson does a good job being the guy who practically needs a puppet to relate to people. It's kinda like having two personalities, except Walter is in beaver mode the majority of the time. Gibson for one portrays a depressed man very convincingly. Foster, who is good friends with Gibson in real life, has no problems playing his spouse, who wants Walter to go back to normal again. Yelchin is also solid as the rebellious son who refuses to acknowledge the beaver. There is a subplot concerning Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence's character Norah, about him being hired by Norah to write her graduation speech, which leads to personal revelations for each other. This actually takes up a lot of the film, but in a way, it's meant to elaborate Porter's motivations towards the end.

However, Foster does not quite explain how Walter came to be depressed in the first place, or how Walter suddenly became inspired to put on the puppet and talk to it. I mean, to find it is one thing, but why put it on?

It's a solid drama overall, though I wish Foster spent a bit more time on the backstory. (3.5/5)

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