The Beaver

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Remo D
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The Beaver

Post by Remo D » Fri May 27, 2011 8:38 pm

Yes, here it is... the Jodie Foster movie that sat on the shelf for two years because it just so happened to star Mel Gibson.

Okay--if you're among those who refuse to watch anything with Mel Gibson strictly on principle, that's your prerogative and I respect it. I am compelled, however, to suggest that you'll miss out on one of his best performances ever if you skip this one. And just like the poem says, when he is good, he is very, VERY good.

Perhaps you're familiar with the premise. If not, let me fill you in on the basics. Gibson is Walter Black, a wealthy, successful businessman (toy company CEO) and family man (married to Jodie Foster, father of two) who, in recent years, has been stricken with crippling, suicidal clinical depression.

But just when it looks like it's all over for him, the one part of his mind that still wants to live asserts itself--and speaks to him through the surrogate form of the title hand puppet. Walter moves to reclaim his place in both his family and his company, but the Beaver must do ALL of the talking. The professional community opines that Walter's reckless self-therapy is putting him in terrible danger, but it certainly seems to be working... right?

Yes, it's as strange as it sounds, but while the laughs are unavoidable (and initially plentiful), this is no comedy--this is a deadly serious look at the very real issue of depression--WITHOUT the pancake syrup. This is no Lifetime weepie-of-the-week. My fellow horror fanatics may invoke memories of MAGIC, and while this is no horror movie, there IS a connection, and the film DOES build to a sequence of comparable intensity--I can assure you that by this point in THE BEAVER, nobody in the audience was laughing.

Those affected by Walter are also given careful attention and empathy: Anton Yelchin (Chekhov in the new STAR TREK) is remarkable as Walter's older son Porter, who's consumed with his own obsession of avoiding turning out just like his father, but who tries perhaps a bit too hard to get the object of his affection (Jennifer Lawrence, our new Mystique) to acknowledge the reality SHE's trying to squelch.

Storyline and subplot alike are handled with remarkable skill and sensitivity by Jodie Foster (she's fine in a fairly limited role as the long-suffering wife and mother, but she truly shines as the director in this case).

Half the critics seem to recommend that one put one's personal perceptions about the controversial star aside, while the other half recommend that they be fully embraced in order to enhance one's appreciation of the performance he delivered here. As usual, I recommend you decide for yourself. But I most certainly recommend this movie.


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