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The Beaver


Year: 2011 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Jodie Foster 
Starring: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin  
An image from The Beaver

Walter Black (Gibson) is depressed. Once a successful CEO, husband and father, he now spends his days sleeping and wallowing in his sorrow. Until he finds the beaver. Having pulled the rodent hand puppet from a dumpster, Walter begins to use the furry toy to communicate, enabling him to put distance between himself and his inner trauma. The beaver empowers Walter to rebuild bridges with his estranged wife (Foster) and sons, and become the innovative toy company chairman he was before. But the line between man and puppet begins to blur as dependence descends into possession, putting Walter’s relationships, career, and sanity in jeopardy again...

The Beaver’s curious concept could easily have formed the foundations of a black comedy, a horror, or a simple slapstick, but under Foster’s fastidious direction the film demands credibility as a sincere examination into the depths of clinical depression. Propelled by Gibson’s powerfully tortured performance, even the film’s most whimsical moments are overshadowed by a malignant melancholia as Walter’s recovery teeters on a knife edge between lucidity and mania. The beaver itself holds the presence of an independent character; given life by Gibson’s adept wrist and uncanny Cockney accent it is entirely unsympathetic towards Walter’s emotions and impatient for his improvement. Whilst Gibson is the film’s totem, the supporting cast are crucial in constructing the context of Walter’s crisis; the believably broiling tension between Gibson and Foster is even upstaged by Walter’s oldest son’s (Yelchin) struggle to accept his father, determined to eradicate every habit they share.

Released amidst the standard summer line-up of superheroes, pirates, and robots, The Beaver stands as testament that truly great films are born from strong scripts, assured acting, and an intriguingly unique idea.

Owen Rye

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Screenings of this film:

2011/2012 Autumn Term (35mm)