Friday, May 20, 2011

The Beaver

The Beaver. He's here to save Walter's life. And this being a spoiler without being a spoiler, he saves Walter's life. Now that might tell you the outcome of the film, but it's not the outcome of the film that you really care about. It's what causes the outcome...

Now it's no secret that I am completely homosexual for Mel Gibson. It's no secret that I have 10 Mel Gibson posters lining my whole bed. It's no secret that whatever he says or does affects me 0%. In fact, a lot of it makes me smile and only adds to his genius insanity (Ill get into that later). But the point Im trying to get across is that, as I sit here, typing up this review, Im being non-biased. I can tell whether I like a film because it's a good film, or if I like it because someone I admire is in it. And The Beaver is a film I like because it is a good film.

When I first heard about this film, I had one question. It was slightly different than most people's initial question, which was, "Is he really doing this movie?". But mine was, "Is this art imitating life, or vice versa?". Because this a PERFECT role for Mel Gibson. Let's see, one of his most iconic characters (that WASNT Max Rockantanksy or William Wallace) was portraying an insane person. Martin Riggs. And The Beaver's Walter Black wasn't far off, in terms of sickness in the head. So I was instantly excited for this film (aside from the fact that it was Mel Gibson's next prospect). Okay, got that out of the way. Moving on...

The Beaver as some of you may know was directed by Jodie Foster. And not having directed a film for 16 years, she did a damn good job. And as any movie, it didnt play without flaws. But I was really impressed with her directing capabilities. First off, this film had a script that was on the "Black List" for a while. And for that alone, I give Foster immense credit for taking on this project. Now with a film like this, you balance on a VERY thin line of drama and comedy. And that's a very hard thing to do. But Foster does it good. Granted, not perfect, but good. To get into more specifics, there is a scene where Walter tries to kill himself. She actually hits all the points that she needs to hit in that scene. She nails the comedy of him not being able to even kill himself properly, but then nails the drama and pity you start to feel towards him by letting it settle to make you think, "Shit, it's funny, but it's really kinda' sad...". Unfortunately, she doesnt use that perfect formula throughout, but it at least keeps you aware that the film you're watching, it's made by someone who DOES know what they're doing.

Before I get to the flaws of the film, Ill touch up on the positive aspects of it. First and foremost (and again, Im being non-biased) is Gibson. This film might not be what is considered an "Oscar-worthy" film (eventhough it's a thousand times better than half the dogshit that is nominated), but his performance is. Gibson really does carry this film. And not without the help of Foster's direction. Walter Black is clearly the source of "The Beaver"'s voice, but Foster manages to include Gibson's mouth or face in every shot, whether he's blurry in the background, or right aside the puppet, he's always there to remind you that it's not a completely silly premise. Now, if you walked into the theatre completely unaware about the movie, you would say to yourself, "Really?!", but it's Gibson's portrayal of his character where you stop smiling and start to realize that this guy has a serious condition. Some actors uses tones and line-delivery to really drive a scene. Gibson, not only does that, but he uses his facial expressions to really sell the scene. You have method actors, actors who NEED to get into a character, and natural actors, who can do almost any role without HAVING to go that extra mile. And Gibson is the latter.

Now to the direction. If this movie is any indictation, I can say that Jodie Foster knows how to balance multiple tones. For instance, this was comedy and drama and she did it well. but as I said before, it didnt play without flaws. Some scenes felt as if she should have treated them with a little less unintentional humor. There were scenes where it should have focused more on Walter than Walter and the beaver. Maybe she was trying to convey the feeling that his family felt, with them not being able to deal with him without the beaver, but personally, I felt it could have focused more on HIM than them. Maybe get inside his head a little more BEFORE he finds the beaver puppet. But she did achieve a good balance formula for about 85% of the movie.

One other flaw though, was Walter's son. And this might actually be a partially biased opinion. But I didnt feel very sympathetic towards him. First off, I do not like Anton Yelchin as an actor. Secondly, his whole storyline didnt really demand the amount of interest as his father's. Dude wrote papers for other people in high school... Okay. So where's the conflict? It was a very weak attempt to make us feel for the guy. Thirdly, his relationship with the girl he liked was pretty weak as well. Not as weak as the "conflict" he faced with writing papers for people, but weak nonetheless. I kinda' didnt give a shit about what was going on when he was on screen by himself or with his fling.

Aside from those nit-picks, the film was pretty damn good. Im still not sure as to whether or not the film exceeded my expectations, but it definately met them. It served a fairly decent score, a humble acting job by Jodie Foster, some good shots, good editing, an all around good film. Too bad it's not going to make any money due to being given a shitty limited release, and now a shitty expansion run. Mel Gibson regurgitates a chill pill again, and automatically NO ONE is going to flock out to see his movies again? Charlie Sheen anyone? The guy has made more cash in the past year by milking his pathetic psuedo-insanity than most actors in the business. Gibson deserves a proper comeback. Edge of Darkness? Kicked ass. Did okay in the box office. But that's what happens when you dump a movie in January. Give him a good script, a good director (if not him), a good release date, and his career is back on track...

"People love a trainwreck... When it's not happening to them."
- Walter Black (Mel Gibson), The Beaver

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