Jodie Foster truly has the potential to direct something great, I truly believe that and will stand by this statement until she directs something of merit. Money Monster was a sufficient enough thriller that cheapened itself with a lacklustre third half. The Beaver provides us with the same struggles, ending itself in a way that totally ruins any chance of a recommendation. Following Walter Black (Mel Gibson), the film follows his struggle with extreme depression, and his glimmer of hope in the Beaver.
For the most part, it’s a pretty competently acted piece with a cast stacked to the brim with recognisably solid performers. Foster stars as Walter’s wife, Meredith Black, with their two sons Porter (Anton Yelchin) and Henry (Riley Thomas Stewart) bringing together a traditionally American family unit. This unit is torn apart by the savage depression that crushes Walter on a daily basis, and Gibson performs his opening scenes extremely well.
Gibson is, as ever, a solid draw for the movie and gives off a fairly strong performance given such a strange plot. His voice as both Walter and the Beaver make it clear that they’re two different characters, potentially a breakaway of Walter himself. The confident man he always wanted to be, but never had the guts to do anything about. It’s a traditional style of storytelling given such an acutely unique twist that it’s quite strange to witness. Walter and the Beaver working together to better the life of Walter, his family and his company, has some delicate scenes that work rather well.
It’s when the Beaver becomes its own character and villain that the film begins to sink into stupidity. Turning away from what could’ve been a potentially touching dark-romance movie, it instead stoops into drama and the extremes The Beaver goes to in wrapping up its final act is near pathetic. Porter and love interest Norah (Jennifer Lawrence) seem shoe-horned in, because focusing all too long on Walter Beck would’ve been too stale of an idea. Instead we have to see the occasional angsty teenage romance, with the traditional styling of said plot coming into play. Interest, fallout and reconciliation, the triple cliché all neatly tied together in what couldn’t have been more than twenty minutes with the characters on the screen.
Still, The Beaver has shining moments of lowly interest and inspiration. It’s plagued however by its final act and the sheer strangeness of its story. Gibson and Foster do a great job of selling it, but the film is plagued with unnecessary subplots, poor writing in its final act and breaks the cardinal sin of making such a unique idea feel worn out by the end of its comfortably short running time.