Mel Gibson steps closer to redemption in Jodie Foster-directed comedy
Just when it seemed that Mel Gibson would never work in Hollywood again, The Beaver proves that he might have a future after all. A string of tabloid scandals suggested that Gibson had pressed the self-destruct button on his career. Ironically, the very public nature of his meltdown works to the advantage of his performance as a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown in this uneven but surprisingly engaging blend of black comedy and marital melodrama.
Jodie Foster’s third film as director has echoes of Bruce Robinson’s How To Get Ahead In Advertising and the recent Bertrand Blier comedy The Clink Of Ice. In all three films emotional crises manifest themselves in unconventional ways. Every aspect of his life depresses Gibson’s Walter and the seemingly inevitable break-up of his marriage to Meredith (Jodie Foster). After an accident, he regains consciousness with the belief that a beaver hand-puppet is an extension of his personality able to voice what he really feels and maybe even turn things around. From now he will only speak to his family through the puppet.
The central conceit of The Beaver works much better than it sounds, with some genuinely funny moments and a committed performance from Gibson that really sells the idea. The film is less successful when the focus strays elsewhere, notably the son Porter (Anton Yelchin) and his relationship with a cheerleader played by Winter’s Bone’s Jennifer Lawrence. Foster also hasn’t done herself any favours with the underwritten role of Meredith. It almost doesn’t matter here because Gibson is the story channelling the manic, edgy qualities of his established screen persona and his personal woes into a performance that encourages you to give him a second chance.
General release from Fri 17 Jun.