Jodie Foster steps in front and behind the camera to tackle the controversial subject of mental health in an extremely honest, yet somehow ridiculously humorous story about a man who is unable to cope with life and so he puts up a front, an Australian Beaver front in The Beaver. The concept is odd and the film doesn’t get much more normal, but it’s refreshing to see someone take such a big risk on a topic that is both important and relevant…

The Players:

The Plot:

A man suffers from severe depression and ends up losing nearly everything because he can’t seem to find a way to deal with life. Just when things are at their worst and there’s no where left to go, a side of him comes out that helps him overcome his fears — that is as long as he doesn’t speak but allows his Aussie beaver hand-puppet to communicate for him.

The Good:

  • Dealing With Mental Health: The film raises some important issues about mental health in an extremely interesting and innovative way. Many people suffer from mental illness and recent socio-economical circumstances have made life very hard for many — there’s no doubt that there are numerous people dealing with issues of depression and other forms of mental illness right now and those people are seeking ways of getting their lives back. Though tying a puppet to ones arm isn’t necessarily the answer and might seem a bit far-fetched, people need to find a way to fight back. So even though the premise for this film is a bit crazy, it makes some rather relevant points and raises some questions worth talking about.
  • Mel Gibson: Who knows where he’s pulling this character from, yes one could tie it into recent gossip, but whether it be life or character acting, I’m not here to judge, I’m here to say it worked extremely well for this film. Gibson has an innate charisma that he’s able to stifle in his own body and yet still show on screen through a stuffed beaver. His character is layered, flawed, pathetically sweet and fascinating to watch.
  • The Side Story: The most interesting part of this film was the young, troubled teenagers played by the equally talented duo Anton Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence.  Their characters were flawed and twisted, but honest and interesting. Their relationship was one worth its own film entirely — I kept finding myself wanting them to turn the camera around and show the other side of the story.
  • Fearless: This is a film that walks all the lines, takes a number of big risks, and isn’t afraid to make you feel uncomfortable — I won’t say that it works 100% of the time, but I respect Foster’s willingness to really “go there” and not just make a cliched drama but take those risks and make a film that is more than just entertainment, is something potentially important.

The Bad:

  • Shift: The film is a bit segmented, it kind of starts are one film then completely shifts to another. Though the character quite obviously has a big changes in his life, the film still needs to all tie together.
  • The Audience: The audience that I watched the film with was cold as ice. It’s important that one knows that it’s okay to laugh at the hard times in life but sometimes it’s necessary. This film capitalizes on that, and I don’t know if it was the films fault or just the lack of understanding from those around me but something made the screening of this film cold and it’s one that when given the time I’ll definitely check out again.

Overall:

As I said, my viewing of this film was not great and I don’t know if that’s due to problems with the film or just a horrible audience (trust me, it’s happened more than once before). The film is not perfect, but it’s got some interesting points, takes a number of big risks, has some absolutely fantastic performances  and if you’re looking for something outside of the box it’s definitely worth your time.

Rating: 6.5/10

The Beaver is in theaters starting May 6th!

Photo Gallery:

Trailer:

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