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Movie Review: Off-kilter 'The Beaver' worth the watch for film lovers

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“The Beaver”
Directed by: Jodie Foster
Starring: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelch, Jennifer Lawrence, Riley Thomas Stewart
Rated: PG-13

Despite Mel Gibson's well publicized problems, he remains a great actor who is able to deliver a fine performance. And he remains friends with Jodie Foster, whom he has worked with before.

She co-stars in and directed the admittedly weird, “The Beaver.”

It's Foster's third (and best) film as a director, following “Little Man Tate” (1991) and “Home for the Holidays” (1996).

Gibson plays Walter Black, the CEO of a major toy company. His life is falling apart. He's in the midst of a major depression and is losing his grip on reality. Those who haven't had a bout of depression don't really know what's it's like and tend to say things such as “If you know you're depressed, just get over it.” That's like telling someone with cancer to “just get over it.” It's a real disease, not a simple malady. It's not appropriate that I tell you how I know this. But I know.

Walter - after lying in bed for weeks (depression is physically debilitating) - finds some sort of weird redemption in a hand puppet. It's a beaver that Walter stumbles upon (in a liquor store dumpster) the night he tries to kill himself and fails.

The beaver puppet becomes his totem and Walter uses him to communicate. It's the only way he can talk to people.

There are several subplots in the film. One of Walter's sons makes hundreds of dollars doing homework for less gifted students and has fallen in love with an old friend. Another subplot deals with Walter's younger son, Henry, who loves his dad but clearly has some concerns.

There's no real way to describe this film. Foster took a brave step in deciding to direct it, and she did a great job.

I can say, though, it's one of the most affecting films I've seen in a long time, and I recommend it highly to movie lovers who like to venture a bit out of the norm.
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