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Walter Black ('Mel Gibson') is depressed and sleeps most of the day. It's driving his family crazy, and his wife Meredith (Jodie Foster) kicks him out. Walter starts carrying a beaver puppet and tries to commit suicide (unsuccessfully). He uses the puppet to talk to himself, trying to bolster his spirits, and is trying to rebuild his life. Through the beaver, the family begins to learn about Walter's history and problems, and as he continues rebuilding, the beaver shows us all a way to cope. Written by
The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2008 Blacklist; a list of the "most liked" unmade scripts of the year. See more »
This is a picture of Walter Black, a hopelessly depressed individual. Somewhere inside him is a man who fell in love. Who started a family. Who ran a successful company. That man has gone missing. No matter what he's tried, and he's tried everything, Walter can't seem to bring him back. It's as if he's died, but hasn't had the good sense to take his body with him. So mostly what he does is sleep.
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What bad thing hasn't been said about the troubled actor Mel Gibson in the last 12 months? Woman beater? Racist? Anti-Semetic? Pig? How about great actor? Regardless of how you feel about Mel Gibson the person, there is no denying that Mel Gibson the actor is still pretty outstanding; his latest, the criminally underrated comedy-drama "The Beaver," proves his mettle as one of our great performers.
As directed by Jodie Foster, who also co-stars, "The Beaver" is a film that had little going for it in the area of promotion, and was virtually ignored at the box office; there's no doubt in my mind that Gibson's crazy personal life played a hand in the film's disappointing critical and box office performances. And that is not to say that this film is any way bad. In fact, it's actually quite good. Although its premise is actually quite ludicrous and should not succeed by any rational means (but this isn't a completely rational film) - Gibson stars as a depressed family man named Walter Black who can only express himself through a beaver hand-puppet - you have to turn on your suspension-of-disbelief button into maximum overdrive mode.
Foster plays his wife Meredith, who is forced to bear witness to a man who may be steadily losing his mind, along with her two sons - troubled high schooler Porter (Anton Yelchin) and kindergärtner Henry (Riley Thomas Stewart). Henry's young age allows him to freely accept Walter and "The Beaver," but Porter openly resents him. In a sub-plot, Porter is also behind a lucrative paper-writing scam that also brings him the attention of a pretty classmate named Norah (Jennifer Lawrence), who is not as straight-laced as she seems, either.
But the focus here is Mel Gibson. Whether he's Mel Gibson or "Mad Mel," it is entirely possible that like "The Beaver" does here, it may have allowed Gibson to seek some sort of therapy for his troubling personal issues. I'm fairly certain he's not the first screwed-up actor in Hollywood to seek therapy through an on-screen film role. In fact, whatever issues he may not be able to say himself, "The Beaver" hand-puppet allows him to say what's on his mind.
"The Beaver" is a good film, no more, no less, with a truly capable performance by Mel Gibson, who despite what you think of him, is still one of the great actors (still) working in Hollywood.
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