The Beaver (2011)

This film was mentioned on a Top Ten Show a few weeks ago by John Rocha and I found it intriguing. I placed it on the list for the DailyView binge. I was never a huge fan of Mel Gibson, and I found the statements he made to be quite obscene. However, I am trying to separate artists from their art. Never wanting to support Mel Gibson again is a stance that I can completely understand and would never argue against someone for deciding that. I just think there are plenty of other people who have done horrendous things or have made ignorant comments, but their creative outlet may not be affected.

It is a controversy, I know.

The Beaver is a film that is clearly an attempt to redeem the career of Mel Gibson. Directed by Jodie Foster, a close friend of Gibson, the movie deals with depression, mental illness and multiple chances.

Walter Black is a depression man, whose toy company, that he inherited, is on the brink of bankruptcy. He is having troubles at home too. His wife Meredith (Jodie Foster) has kicked him out and of his two sons, Porter (Anton Yelchin) does not want anything to do with him.

His troubles lead to several failed suicide attempts from Walter. After his last one, he found an old hand puppet of a beaver in a dumpster. When he puts the puppet on his hand, he develops a second personality that speaks for and takes over the life of Walter. Named, simply, The Beaver, the personality tries to reorganize Walter’s life while reconnecting with the family he had been separated from.

I remember when this movie first came out. It seemed like a silly film, and, with the Gibson controversy, it was easy to ignore it. However, though there was some dark comedy involved here, this was not a silly, puppet movie. This was a dark, gloomy film with a character that was totally lost and suffering with his mental illness. The Beaver seems to be able to help Walter be successful, but it just meant that The Beaver was becoming dominant.

Porter was having his own issues. Selling himself to other high school students to write papers in their voices, Porter is hired by Norah (Jennifer Lawrence), another student, to write her graduation speech. The problem was that Norah was dealing with her own loss. Porter connected with her but his attempts to help only cause more problems.

There are some deep issues being dealt with here and it is a completely different movie than I remember seeing trailers about back in 2011. Strong performances by all the cast, a deep character study and just the right amount of dark humor sprinkled in makes The Beaver a film that was unexpectedly decent.

It was sad to see Anton Yelchin in the film. He was such an amazing young actor and his death was just a major tragedy. Who knows what he could have accomplished by now? His performance here is excellent.

The beaver is a very solid movie and, if you can look past Mel Gibson, who shows he is an exceptional actor (while maybe not a good person), this is a film worth the time.

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