Whether you like it or not, Mel Gibson is a great actor and he has proved it once again in Jodie Foster produced The Beaver.
When I first saw the trailer of Gibson holding a silly beaver puppet I thought that the guy was slipping; but I couldn’t have been more wrong. This is a serious expose”² of a rampant problem in contemporary America: Depression.
Walter Black (Gibson) is portrayed as a man whose life has spiraled out of control. The toy company that he has inherited from his father is failing; he has separated from his wife (Foster); and he is living in a dumpy hotel where he liquors himself up. In a moment of despair he tries to hang himself in the shower stall but it collapses and he survives. During a garbage dumpster run, Walter finds a ratty beaver puppet which he soon begins to communicate through. The beaver puppet transforms him from a dysfunctional depressant to a lucid middle-aged man.
Walter and the beaver meld into one. When he comes to visit his family, his wife at first thinks it is some kind of joke; but she soon discovers that his mental illness is deteriorating. His younger son Henry (Riley Thomas Stewart) thinks it is some kind of game and is amused by it, while his older high school son (Anton Yelchin) realizes that his father is slipping into oblivion. At work his employees think it is some kind of gimmick to motivate the toy business, and it does, until Walter goes off the deep end.
As the movie progresses the Walter character becomes downright scary. (The story reminded me of the movie Magic with Burgess Meridith where the puppet comes to life and starts dictating decisions.)
Gibson pulls it off and proves once again that he is a star. Now if he could just stop drinking…
My rating: 4 of 5 Prozac.