I like family dramas. There is something very satisfying about seeing a broken family reunited. Jodie Foster’s The Beaver is one such movie. The Beaver shows a family torn by depression and the cautious roads they take to find their way back to each other.
Gibson stars as Walter Black, a toy company CEO, who fell into a colossal depression. His wife Meredith (Foster) kicks him out because she won’t/can’t allow their two sons Porter (Anton Yelchin, Terminator Salvation) and Henry (Riley Thomas Stewart) to witness his emotional breakdown.
One evening, Walter finds a beaver puppet and wears it as he attempts suicide. He fails and the next morning, he adopts a Cockney accent and begins speaking through the beaver as a way to distance himself from his depression. Meredith and Henry are more accepting of this new method of coping but Porter just wants his father out his life.
To be honest, I was a little disappointed by the movie. That’s because it focused too much on Walter’s mental condition than it did on his relationships with his family. The concept of the beaver puppet is so bizarre that the movie needs a firm emotional foundation to work. I am more interested in seeing him try to win over Porter than I am in seeing him wrestle with this Beaver persona.
In fact, the movie would have been much less peculiar and hard to swallow if a psychiatrist had actually prescribed using the puppet; instead, seeing him use the puppet seems dangerous and regressive.
The movie contains a subplot where Porter writes other students’ essays for money, saying it is easy for him to adopt other people’s voices. There is an obvious connection between him and his father but the movie does not really explore this connection. I expected this similarity would bring them together but it didn't. The subplot also includes Jennifer Lawrence (Oscar nominee for Winter’s Bone) as Nora, Porter’s classmate. They have a slight romance but even that gets sidetracked .
The acting is one of The Beaver’s main victories. Both Gibson and Foster give studied performances that are brimming with intensity and pain. Anton Yelchi, however, is not strong in his role. He makes too many obvious choices when it comes to line deliveries and body language. It’s fun to see Lawrence act circles around him; she definitely stole the show and I missed her when she wasn’t onscreen.
Foster may not have picked the best script for her third film as director (she previously made Little Man Tate and Home for the Holidays). The movie, however, is flawed but endearing in a way. Compared to a stellar family drama like last year’s Rabbit Hole (starring Oscar nominee Nicole Kidman), however, it falters under the weight of its premise.
Danielle Panabaker's Top Pop Picks
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