Mel Gibson as The Beaver (Coming to Home Video)
A man is so depressed that he can’t get out of bed. He’s failing his family, his company, himself. His life not only lacks joy, but also lacks purpose. Absolutely nothing justifies his existence. His wife asks him to move out--although she loves him--he loads his belongings into the trunk of his car, and heads for the liquor store. Finding there is no room in the trunk for the carton of liquor he has just purchased, the man throws some of his possessions into a dumpster where he discovers a discarded puppet.
The man is Walter Black and the puppet is The Beaver. Walter (Mel Gibson in his “comeback” role) checks into a hotel where he unsuccessfully attempts to kill himself. Twice. So begins The Beaver, a dark, dark movie, directed by Jodie Foster, about a man who will do anything to escape the very depths of depression. Walter lets the beaver talk for him.
The puppet is not enchanted or possessed, and does not have a life independent of Walter. When the puppet speaks, although it is in a different voice and accent, Walter’s mouth is moving. Pretending it’s a new type of therapy, Walter convinces people to talk to the puppet instead of directly to him.
With the earmarks of a comedy, The Beaver is a serious study of a seriously dysfunctional man, and is not played for laughs, although not humorless. Jodie Foster brings sensitivity to the role of Walter’s wife, Meredith, who is trying so hard to accommodate his new “therapy” after allowing Walter to move back home. Her breaking point comes when they go out to celebrate their twentieth anniversary…and the beaver accompanies them.
Interestingly, Walter’s life improves when he allows the beaver to speak for him, but things devolve as Walter begins to believe the beaver is not a puppet and does have a personality of its own. The Beaver is wholly original, complex, and well acted, with fine supporting performances from Anton Yelchin as Walter’s son, Porter, and Jennifer Lawrence as Porter’s friend, Norah. It arrives on DVD, Video on Demand, and Blu-ray August 23, 2011.