Dick De Jong
September 9, 2011
No doubt The Beaver would have been better served if Mel Gibson's personal laundry hadn't been exposed to the media and the world. But it did.
And attempting to separate the artist's real life dramas from his art can be difficult. But I will try.
I - enjoyed is not the right word to describe my emotions about a film about a manic depressive whose tenuous grip on sanity and life itself depends upon a nappy, toothy, cockney, rodent of a hand puppet - let's just say, I was moved by Gibson's performance.
Some might consider the script too allegorical with devices like Walter Black's (Gibson) son Porter (Anton Yelchin) literally banging his head against his bedroom wall as he lists all the ways that he is like his unhinged father. Finally, he breaks through to see the light of day - or is it the dark of night.
Indeed, the movie could have easily become unbearably dismal if not for the sensitive stewardship of Director Jodie Foster, who also plays Meredith, Walter's long suffering wife who tries everything to hold her family together.
As the Director, Foster guides the cast and the audience through a balancing act between gut wrenching drama and surreal farce, (the beaver delivers some great lines).
In her audio commentary, Foster constantly discusses her concern for the proper tone of a scene.
And she succeeds as she weaves in the subplot of Porter's budding relationship with his troubled soul mate, Norah (played by the magnetic Jennifer Lawrence).
In one last allegory, Foster's character Meredith designs roller coasters and forgive me for saying this, but The Beaver takes you on an emotional ride, perhaps not with the turbulent extremes, but one that will raise your anxiety level nonetheless.
This Blu-ray of The Beaver includes a few deleted scenes and a featurette on the making of the movie, "Everything is Going to Be O.K."
The real gem is Foster's Audio Commentary, which is intelligent, revealing and definitely worth listening to.
She talks about the technical side of making the movie, but more importantly, she discusses the decisions she struggled with to keep the film's emotional tone on an even keel. Her insights make me wish that she would direct more often.
And finally, a word about the Blu-ray transfer, you may not think that a character-driven film like The Beaver would benefit from a Blu-ray release. But Foster and her crew have added production values that can be fully appreciated with this good-looking high definition rendering.
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Director: Jodie Foster
Cast: Jodie Foster, Mel Gibson, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence, Cherry Jones
Length: 91 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Dolby Digital 5.1
English SDH and Spanish