So last night I saw a movie called The Beaver. It wasn’t some stupid remake of Leave it To Beaver or some National Lampoon teen sex comedy like the name implies. It was a really bleak, disturbing, & somewhat honest look at depression.
The general description seems like it has to be a comedy, depressed man uses a beaver puppet to talk to the world; but Mel Gibson plays the role more seriously than I’ve seen him play anything since the original Mad Max. It opens with a portrait of Gibson as a depressed man sleeping as much as he can to avoid the life he has where he’s a failure as a father, husband, & businessman. His wife (Jodie Foster (who also directed this)) throws him out & in a drunken stupor he tries to hang himself in a hotel & fails & then tries to throw himself off the balcony & fails at that because a beaver puppet intervenes. This is only five minutes into the movie, so I feel it’s not a spoiler.
So the beaver puppet is what Gibson uses to communicate to the world for the majority of the movie. & the puppet is a better father & husband & businessman than Gibson ever was. Of course the puppet is a mask. Which is what can happen when you get into the level of suicidal depression. You know that you are not functioning properly, that you are letting down everyone that cares about you, that you’ve become a burden to the friends & family that have tried to stick it through with you. So you decide to put on a mask. You decide to play the part of a good person, a better person than who you were before depression destroyed you. You fake it & it’s totally ridiculous, but somehow most people think you are great now, that you are awesome; things are finally going your way. But the mask is cheap & cracking & that people can’t tell it’s a mask just makes things worse & make it harder to see any possibility of ever getting out.
So I think this movie is well done, but I’m not sure who I can suggest it to. People who liked Leaving Las Vegas, He Was A Quiet Man, & World’s Greatest Dad but aren’t in a dark enough place that it hits too close to home?
Oh, I will say the sex scenes with the beaver are ridiculous, but played so straight they just make the viewer feel weird, at least if the viewer is me.