The Beaver

16 08 2011

“The Beaver” doesn’t sound like it’s gonna be a heartbreaking drama. It is. And contrary to the film’s supposed genre, it isn’t a comedy-drama, at least not fully.

Walter Black, played by Mel Gibson, is a depressed middle-aged toy company owner. He’s got a wife, Meredith, played by Jodie Foster, and two sons.

Walter is depressed. He’s sleeping most of the day. He rarely does anything apart from trying to kill himself. Though this depression, or where it comes from, is not fully explained, I didn’t feel it needed to.

Like about 99% of movies, “The Beaver” has three acts. The genre shifts as the film progresses. But not to a more happy tone as you’d expect. It goes from the happier act one to the emotionally gripping act three. It ends on a rather sour note.

I wouldn’t normally have anything against this sort of anti-progression, but the way it’s dealt with here is slightly disturbing. The second act is supposed to tie the film together. It does, but not fully. I felt the third act was way too sad compared to the second act, and vice-versa with the first act. What I’m trying to say, is that the first and third act of “The Beaver” are perfect. The second act… Not so much.

Mel Gibson does some of his finest work ever as both Walter and the title character, who is a “prescription puppet,” someone who should help Walter overcome his depression. He does not talk directly to anyone, he uses the beaver, as if it is him in a second body.

Gibson does a magnificent job. At moments, you might even find yourself looking at the Beaver as Walter’s talking through it. Anton Yelchin as the rebel son and a kid whose name I don’t know as the younger son are also perfectly cast. Jodie Foster, who is also directing, also does a great job, in both acting and directing.

“The Beaver” has been labeled a comedy-drama or dark comedy. It is neither. “The Beaver” is a psychological drama with a first act that is quite humorous. That’s the best way I can describe it.

There is a twist late in the movie that happens a bit too suddenly, and as I said before, the second act is not as notch as the other two, but thanks to magnificent performances from its cast, including Jennifer Lawrence who is one of the best younger actresses around, slick direction, and a very engrossing and thought-provoking third act, “The Beaver” is a surprisingly un-silly, and overall excellent film.

Rating: ★★★½





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