91 minutes| U.S.A| 2011| Colour| D-Cinema

Despite Mel Gibson’s abhorrent off-screen behaviour in recent years, there’s no denying his remarkable performance in sombre drama The Beaver as a man who (in a case of art imitating life?) reaches rock bottom before attempting to redeem himself. Incapacitated by depression and alcohol, Walter (Gibson) is reluctantly thrown out by wife Jodie Foster – also making a welcome and long-overdue return to the director’s chair – for the sake of their children. A beaver hand puppet rescued from a dumpster provides him with an alter-ego that reinvigorates his life, resuscitating his career as well as helping heal relations with his wife and younger son. Only his elder son (Anton Yelchin) stands apart, determined to erase from his personality all traits shared with the troubled Walter while pursuing classmate Jennifer Lawrence, who shines in what could have been a throwaway role. A strange, intriguing and memorable film, The Beaver is a sensitive study of the effects of mental illness on family dynamics. (Notes by Kevin Coyne).

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