Tagline: “He’s here to save Walter’s life”
Intro: As awkward as you’ll feel saying “I’ll have one for THE BEAVER" at the cinema, Jodie Foster’s irreverently titled film starring the infamous Mel Gibson rewards us with a poignant family drama. The vital love story between Gibson and Foster is beautifully complemented by the budding relationship between Anton Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence.
Plot Summary: Having just been kicked out of his house by his wife Meredith (Jodie Foster), Walter Black (Mel Gibson) finds a ratty beaver puppet in a dumpster. After a failed suicide attempt, Walter emerges from his stupor with The Beaver on his arm giving him stern orders to make a fresh start. With an quasi Brit-Aussie accent The Beaver- extroverted, gutsy, and blunt- offers to bring Walter back to life by directing his every move and communicating exclusively for him.
Meanwhile, his son Porter (Anton Yelchin) gets an unlikely customer for his furtive plagiarism services: the head cheerleader and valedictorian Norah (Jennifer Lawrence). Norah hires Porter to write her graduation speech and they start hanging out for his “research.” He agitates her to tell the story she’s been hiding for others and herself.
Back to Walter, The Beaver becomes more of a presence in Walter’s life. The slight charm and curiosity turns to anger and fear from Meredith and Porter. Walter needed The Beaver to break out of his depression, but the puppet has eclipsed him completely. Can Walter fight the thing that sustained him before his family leaves him for good?
Verdict: This movie knocked me out. It begins like a quirky comedy with everyone resetting their expectations of Walter with The Beaver speaking for him. Yet, the laughs subside as the film reveals it’s darker and cutting story of Walter’s struggle with severe depression. Mel Gibson captures Walter’s move from desperation to complete dependence on the puppet. It’s kind of a duel role, since he supplies the voice and mannerisms of the cheeky beaver puppet.
The film also explores the quieter and common feelings of loss through Meredith, Porter, and Norah. There will surely be a scene or character that will connect for you. Jennifer Lawrence from WINTERS BONE is incredible in the film. She’s a fully developed young woman along with being a bewitching love interest for Anton Yelchin. We need more characters like her Norah.
THE BEAVER tackles serious territory with a high and ridiculous concept, but Director Josie Foster makes it work by carefully building on the persona of the beaver. As Walter retreats, the once funny Beaver becomes a specter of real danger. The conclusion isn’t neat, but offers real hope and catharsis.
Directed by Drake Doremus
Starring Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, and Jennifer Lawrence
Even though I have not read Suzanne Collins’ dystopian novels, I am extremely excited for the release of “The Hunger Games.” I wanted the film to be my introduction to the series and from browsing reviews; I think it will be a fantastic launching pad. Here are a few quick reasons for the un-initiated to be excited for “The Hunger Games.”
Director Gary Ross
More and more, whether or not I see a film depends on who is directing. A director who builds trust with the audience with consistent, high quality work can out weigh other factors a movie may have in it’s favor or against it (see Andrew Stanton). Helming “The Hunger Games” is “Pleasantville” director Gary Ross. Even though Ross has not directed in almost 10 years, his work on “Pleasantville” and “Seabiscuit” will always stand in his favor. Those films show he can fully explore several character arcs at the same time, while delivering an appealing overall story. He is also great with young actors (Tobey Maguire and Resse Witherspoon give incredible performances in “Pleasantville”). All these point in the right direction for “Hunger Games.”
Lawrence is an actress who continually surpasses expectations and picks challenging material. Her breakout, Oscar nominated role in “Winter’s Bone” took everyone by surprise. Not only could she hold the screen with John Hawkes, playing the worlds scariest uncle, Lawrence brought audiences precariously close to Ree’s pure terror and sorrow when she confirms her father’s death. From there, she’s wonderful in “The Beaver” and “Like Crazy.” I thought her performance in “X-Men First Class was a bit uneven, but she still makes it work. Mounting a mega franchise, Lawrence will get the exposure she deserves and bring the talent that should please both fans and critics.
The rest of the cast is incredible. And any movie that marks the return of Wes Bentley (yeah “American Beauty”) will be automatically great.
Post- Potter Depression
I don’t know if this is an official illness, but since July I have suffered from an extreme sadness and withdrawl from the END of Harry Potter. I’m not ashamed to say I cried during the CREDITS. I need something to help me start to fill the void Potter has left in my mind and time I waste at work. Hopefully the film will send me to the bookstore and beyond for a renewed campaign of extreme fan-girling.