For the second evening in-a-row friends of Cheltenham Film Club brilliantly enjoyed Cineworld luxurious Screening Rooms all for the very worthwhile cause of Make-A-Wish Foundation UK, where we watched another preview in…..
#123 / 365 – ‘The Beaver’ – 91 mins
Cinema Challenge #49 / 115
Toy company executive Walter Black (Mel Gibson) has been in a deep depression for more than two years, placing huge strain on his marriage. On the eve of being kicked out by his long-suffering wife, Meredith (Jodie Foster), he even makes an unsuccessful attempt at suicide. Walter’s breakthrough comes in the unlikely form of a beaver hand puppet that he finds in the rubbish. He uses this to communicate with Meredith. It’s a technique that allows him to distance himself from the pain he feels. His eldest son, Porter (Anton Yelchin), meanwhile, is ashamed of his father’s illness and alarmed at the similarities he sees in his own personality.
Mel Gibson makes a welcome and phenomenal return to acting form in a role that you could more than say mirrors his well publicised off-screen struggles of the last few years. The Beaver deals with the deep and emotional issues of depression and is a topic that needs to be covered, but in her latest directorial effort Jodie Foster chooses to tell this story mainly through the persona of a glove puppet, The Beaver with a strange Cockney accent reminiscent of Ray Winstone. Unfortunately this predominantly is The Beaver’s biggest flaw, as the puppet ploy comes across as unnecessary and silly causing the film not to gel and work on the level it should.
Foster elects to fill more screen time involving Meredith’s and Walter’s disapproving son, Porter and his attempts to woo classmate Norah (Jennifer Lawrence ‘Winters Bone’) and whilst this is good due to Lawrence’s acting prowess, this ultimately serves as an unworthy sub-plot. Had Foster opted to play the story solely through the route of Walter himself then it would have been a memorable and meaningful affair, but in the end this heartfelt tale is satisfying enough and worth seeking out just for the compelling and resonant performance of Gibson alone.