Posted on 6/30/11 05:04 AM
Despite being considered a 'high-concept' film, 'The Beaver' is a strangely safe and conventional family drama, void of genuine emotion and coated with a superficial veneer. Nothing resonates.
Something felt really off about the screenplay and direction. The most compelling aspect of the story was exactly how a person could develop an illness in which they choose to communicate through a puppet - but 'The Beaver' skims over this with an unexpected montage. The audience is given no sense of how Walter Black unravels. Actually, the audience is given no sense of Walter Black at all, so therefore the beaver puppet feels like nothing more than a gimmick. I'm truly surprised to read reviews that talk about a film that explores a 'broken man's attempt to rebuild his life'.
The performances weren't up to scratch either. Anton Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence have both proven their acting chops in previous roles - but here they are inconsistent. Jodie Foster seemed slightly uncomfortable and self-conscious (a real surprise, as she is one of my all-time favourites), so perhaps taking on both directing and acting was unwise. Gibson's performance is difficult to comment on. Asthetically he looks the part of a shattered soul, but the writing provides very little insight into the man behind the puppet.
The music was intrusive, with one of the most distracting scores I've encountered in recent memory, and one of Radioheads most emotionally devastating songs was misused in an 'are you kidding me?' moment. To be positive, the cinematography is crisp and clear - and the film is clearly ambitious....but ambition does not equal a good film.
I was expecting 'The Beaver' to be a moving exploration of the human condition, with a focus on communication and mental illness. Instead, I got a superficial family drama that spreads itself too thin. The concept of 'The Beaver' had amazing potential, but unfortunately it did not dig deep enough.