The Beaver

Quirky account of a man suffering from mental illness who communicates using a beaver hand puppet. Strange film is a weird mix of dark comedy and poignant drama. If you can cuddle up to the story’s offbeat rhythms, then you’ll probably enjoy this unconventional tale. For the most part, it isn’t funny, but deadly serious. A movie like Lars & The Real Girl for example, had a charm to it that presented its narrative as amusing, so it felt ok to laugh. Here laughter feels inappropriate as his condition is grim. Yet his friends and family don’t treat his predicament as such. Their bemused annoyance is apparent in every scene. I found it aggravating that no one seemed concerned enough to sincerely reach out and truly help him.

The script does make some extremely intelligent points, however. That a person’s success will encourage people to permit ultimately destructive behavior is a particularly biting attack on contemporary culture. The obvious parallels to a certain sitcom star are coincidental perhaps, but very timely nonetheless. There is a clear objective to the story too. It’s well written and all of the little vignettes actually add up to something in the end, so I give writer Kyle Killen’s debut script credit for that. I only wish we had deeper insight into his disability. He’s already mentally unbalanced right at the beginning, but we don‘t know to what extent. Furthermore, we never see him as healthy, so it’s difficult to appreciate how he used to be and got to this stage. That might have made the tragedy of his deterioration a bit more compelling.

Any review must address the Mel Gibson situation. His problems with alcohol and public drunkenness linger. His subsequent rants have been so well documented, they’re impossible to ignore. I suspect, if anything, this fiction benefits from his notoriously real image as persona non grata. What better actor to play a man on a downward spiral? Although the issues involved are different in scope, there are definite similarities in life imitating art. Or in this case, the other way around.

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7 Responses to “The Beaver”

  1. Great comparison to “Lars and the real girl”. Wish it explained more about him, and how he got that way, too

  2. What about Jodie Foster? How is she as a director? And also, how’s Jennifer Lawrence in the film?

    • Jodie Foster was fine as director and star. She really let the other cast members shine. She kind of fades into the background.

      Jennifer Lawrence was very good. She has an appealing presence. Definitely someone to keep watching.

  3. magnolia12883 Says:

    I love this film because I relate to it so surprisingly. Having lived with someone who is bi-polar and having survived their insanity, I find this to be a strikingly accurate (emotionally more than psychologically) portrait of how a manic depressive deals with the world and how their loved ones deal with them. It’s not very funny because it’s not meant to be. The previews do more in that regard than the film because it’s not a funny situation.

    • You’re right it’s not meant to be funny. But you have to admit, there’s something inherently humorous about an adult man always speaking with a puppet…. even while having sex with his wife!

  4. magnolia12883 Says:

    I fear the previews try to play up the quirky humor of the situation – having lived with something like this in my own life, I can confirm its lack of humor

  5. Like your review. I just saw this and I hated it. I usually love odd movies, but this one just went a little too far and left me in a state of 90-minute boredom. Here’s my review:

    http://themoviefreakblog.WordPress.com/2012/03/18/review-the-beaver

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