Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Beaver

I wanted not to be interested in this film, since Mr. Gibson is taboo (I guess). But the premise sounded so curious, and he remains a fine actor. And there's the added intrigue of its being the directorial debut of Jodie Foster.

Walter Black (Gibson) is suffering from major depression. His wife (Foster) finally kicks him out of the house. While trashing a box of memories in a dumpster, on his way to a suicide attempt, he comes across a hand-puppet, a beaver, through which he begins speaking (in a Cockney accent). The Beaver takes charge of Black's life, brings him back into the world, and (without giving too much away) Black is ultimately redeemed.

Very strange. I think Gibson pulls it off. (Ebert didn't.) The strange premise becomes a little more plausible if we think of the beaver as representing a dissociative split in Black's personality--and this makes sense of the struggle between Black and the beaver-personality toward the end. (I recently read Robert Oxnam's A Fractured Life, which details his own struggles with dissociative identity disorder, aka "multiple personality disorder." It's a good read.)

It sounds like dark comedy, but Foster paints the films in tones of realism (and drama). Compare, perhaps, to Lars and the Real Girl. Although melodramatic at moments, if you go with it, some scenes are actually touching, and the subplot concerning the older son, who is lost in his own way and wants mainly not to become like his father (even pre-beaver), is fairly well-executed. It's not a great film, but it's memorable, and so worth seeing. (If you're willing to give Mr. Gibson a chance.)

(I'm busy with teaching, so posting will be irregular.)

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