The Beaver Review

It appears that Kyle Killen (the mind behind TV's short lived Lone Star and upcoming Jason Isaacs starring tv series, Awake) is one of the most promising up and coming creative talents in Hollywood.  His first foray into film, completely backs up this perception.  The Beaver (a film about a depressed CEO who forms a relationship with a Beaver hand puppet in order to cope) is an interesting, but far from mainstream  portrayal of a tough topic (depression).

Killen's script is deftly directed by Jodie Foster (who also stars in the film as the main character's wife).  Killen's script appeared to be such a tough script to bring to life.  If the tone of the script was upset at all, the film would have completely failed.  So it is such a wise choice that Foster decides to embrace the dark nature of the script.  She holds nothing back and what results is a film that lets the script and performances tell the story.  The one side effect of Foster embracing the nature of the script is that it takes a while to get into the film.  It has such a unique atmosphere that makes it seem as the film is moving slowly as you adjust to it.  Once it does find it's rhythm, however, Foster is able to get it to flow as if she were a director who has been directing for decades.

The real highlight of this film, though, is the top notch cast.  To begin with, Mel Gibson's role as the depressed father who uses a puppet to treat himself has to be one of the most interesting career choices an actor has ever made.  The role is somewhat similar to the public's perception of the man in real life.  I would actually call it a perfect career move by Gibson as the film was never going to play to mainstream audiences and those who do will be able to separate the actor from the man.  It's the perfect starting block for a comeback, and it is one of his best performances ever.  Gibson is able to handle the difficult material with ease.  Most actors would have succumbed to the silliness involved with talking with and through a beaver puppet in dramatic fashion.  Gibson on the other hand pulls it off and gives one of the most startling performances this year.  You can hate the man all you want, but as an actor, Mel Gibson is a talent.

Anton Yelchin is as good, if not better, as the son of Mel Gibson's character.  Yelchin is able to perfectly capture Gibson's mannerisms while giving more depth to his rebel teenager.  The rest of the cast is rounded out by the aforementioned Jodie Foster (who does a good job of being the clear point of sanity in the film) and Jennifer Lawrence (who continues to be one of the most promising young actors out there as she turns a cliche high school girl role into a sympathetic and complex person).

The Beaver is definitely not a film for everyone as it holds nothing back, but to those who can see the message that it is trying to display, the film is completely worth the time invested.


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