Jodie Foster’s The Beaver picked up on her friend and Maverick co-star Mel Gibson’s personal troubles and managed in her third directorial dramedy (after Little Man Tate and Home for the Holidays) to dramatize them with a very odd, sometimes funny and immensely moving screenplay by Kyle Killen. Father, husband and terminally depressed toy manufacturer Walter Black (Gibson) finds himself on the verge of suicide one night and ultimately finds a second lease on life, as it were, thanks to a beat-up old beaver puppet. The puppet provides Walter with a new voice that distances himself from the “negative aspects of his personality” (alcoholism and probably bi-polar disorder). Walter’s wife (Foster) and grown son (Anton Yelchin) find this at first disturbing and unnerving only to find new value in their relationship to him. Again, as someone who has lived with mental illness in his family, this film is surprisingly powerful…once you get past the patently absurd premise.



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