Curious type of Mel- o’drama
AS they say, a little knowledge can do a lot of damage. And a lot of knowledge? You just don’t want to know. Such is the paradoxical plight facing The Beaver, a profoundly strange concoction of black comedy and bleak drama.
The film stars Mel Gibson, a man whose personal life in recent times can only be classified as profoundly strange.
Though The Beaver was filmed in advance of the multiple meltdowns that trashed Gibson’s good-guy persona forever, the actor and the character he is playing are clearly grappling on some very rocky common ground.
Try as you might, it is incredibly difficult to separate the two. And so, what was already a rather freaky conceit for a movie unintentionally morphs into a freak show.
Gibson plays Walter Black, a middle-aged man who literally ghost-walks through the first stages of this picture in a near-suicidal state of depression.
Alienated from his wife ( Jodie Foster, who also directs) and two sons due to the extremity of his condition, Walter has tried every psychiatric therapy known to man in the hope of finding a cure.
In one final act of defiant desperation, Walter takes his treatment into his own hands. Literally.
Walter decides to interact with those around him exclusively through a tatty old hand-puppet he calls ‘‘ The Beaver’’.
A no-nonsense go-getter with a wacky Cockney accent and a spooky stare, The Beaver turns out to be just what Walter needs to turn his life around.
Walter wins his family back. His business is rescued from the brink of bankruptcy. All those bad thoughts go away. And all because he’s walking through the world with a puppet perched on his right fist.
The film takes a sharp swerve into the dark zone in its later stretches, where Walter attempts to wean himself off his dependency on the tough-talking toy.
A brave, baffling and bizarre experience, The Beaver does have its merits as a movie, particularly for its frank and sincere take on mental illness.
However, Gibson’s off-screen notoriety cancels out what is happening on-screen at crucial junctures.
This is a genuine shame, because there are aspects to his raw, open-wound performance that are the work of a very fine actor indeed.
So what we have in The Beaver is a definite curiosity piece and a possible career epitaph, but not a complete motion picture.
Now showing State Cinema