Aug 4, 2011

Daily Proposition: gotta hand it to Mel’s Beaver

The Beaver is a quietly unsettling inspirational story.

Luke Buckmaster — Writer, Critic and The Daily Review Journalist

Luke Buckmaster

Writer, Critic and The Daily Review Journalist

There is a compelling sense of desperation in Mel Gibson’s baggy-eyed performance as a mentally ill businessman who finds a second life via a musty puppet beaver in this left-of-field and long-delayed Jodie Foster-directed drama that arrives in cinemas burdened by the baggage of Gibson’s chequered reputation.

The life/art parallels between Gibson and his character, Walter Black, are manifest. Black, who once projected the image of a cocksure all-round success story — smiling wife, chirpy kids, a cosy job, plenty of digits in the bank account, a feet-on-the-desk kinda guy — is now in the middle of a mid-life meltdown. The opening reel of The Beaver introduces us to this “hopelessly depressed man” — so says the (entirely superfluous) voice-over — who has tried everything to mend himself and failed at every turn. Disheveled and broken-spirited, Black decides to remedy life’s woes by literally sleeping through virtually everything until the moment he awakens and decides that he wants to kill himself.

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