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The Beaver

The BeaverThere are times when just one small
  thing can help to heal an unbalanced
  mind, as a troubled man (Mel Gibson)
  discovers in the highly amusing,
  deeply tragic and very human film,
  The Beaver

BECOMING INCREASINGLY UNSTABLE and unable to find himself, successful toy manufacturer Walter Black (double Academy Award-winner Mel Gibson: Braveheart; Lethal Weapon) feels that he is slowly losing his mind and has given up on his psychiatrist.

Walter's long-suffering wife Meredith (double Academy Award-winner Jodie Foster: Silence Of The Lambs; Taxi Driver) seems to have come to the end of her tether and his eldest son Porter (Anton Yelchin) is so desperate not to be like his father that he obsessively writes Post-it notes to remind himself not to adopt Walter's mannerisms.

Only youngest son Henry (Riley Thomas Stewart) loves Walter unconditionally, but even he is having problems in school as he is being bullied and has become "solitary". It is Walter's relationship with Henry — and Henry's acceptance of the changes in his father — that is so touching and is one of the high points of this splendid film.

Walter has totally lost his way. Whatever he does, he is unable to return to normal and finds communication with his wife, his eldest son and his colleagues impossible. Eventually he packs his bags to move to a hotel — and while he is disposing of things he no longer needs, he spots a beaver glove puppet in a dumpster. He cannot know that this is the beginning of an unorthodox new phase in his recovery…

While the balance of Walter's mind is disturbed, he unsuccessfully tries to hang himself before attempting to jump from the tenth floor balcony but an unseen force drags him back into the room — and he finds himself face-to-face with The Beaver.

Beset by his own demons, Walter is desperate to find his way back to his family and to re-establish himself at the head of the business. Stepping back from reality, he allows The Beaver to convey his thoughts to his work colleagues and those he loves.

The Beaver seems to be the answer to Walter's prayers. He can communicate with anyone, romance his wife and interact with his youngest son. Meredith is willing to give this strange situation one more try and only Porter seems to reject Walter and The Beaver.

With this new split personality, Walter is able to rekindle his relationship with Meredith, inspire his work colleagues and get himself back on track. The Beaver is truly altruistic; taking over all responsibilities, successfully handling Walter's conversations, decisions, and sorting out Walter's life for him. Or is he?

As the two become inextricably intertwined, where does Walter begin and The Beaver end? Ultimately, it is Walter's inability to get rid of The Beaver when he feels able to go it alone and reclaim his life that leads to the shocking conclusion at the end of the film.

Written by newcomer Kyle Killen, The Beaver is an emotional journey of a man who no longer knows who he is and who is attempting to reclaim his life. Mel Gibson is magnificent as Walter, perfectly portraying his "other self", The Beaver — whose wonderfully-gravelly, cockney voice is said to be modelled on Mel's Edge Of Darkness co-star Ray Winstone.

The equally outstanding Jodie Foster, as both co-star and Director, has given this tragicomedy a compelling and sympathetic treatment that propels the emotional edge forward, melding at times with humour that never loses sight of the dreadful dilemma of Walter and all those who suffer the fall-out of a normally strong, dedicated family man who has past issues and who can no longer hold it all together.

The Beaver is multi-dimensional. That is, it not only addresses the problems of Walter and Meredith but also their adolescent son. Walter's father apparently committed suicide; Walter attempted to take his own life; and Porter is showing signs of distress. He meets pretty Nora (Jennifer Lawrence), but she too has a troubled past and their relationship was never going to be easy.

At one point during the film, Walter is watching Kung Fu, starring the late David Carradine, in which Master Po warns Kwai Chang Caine: "If a man dwells on the past, then he robs the present. But if a man ignores the past, he may rob the future." Clever.

As Walter falls apart, the family reacts according to their characters. Brilliantly driven, astonishing and empathetically filmed, The Beaver has a lasting effect on all who view it. Mel and Jodie are a formidable team. Stunned silence before applause.

Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster have been close friends for many years. Of Gibson's performance, she says: "Walter Black and The Beaver had to be somebody who could fully understand and communicate both comedy and tragedy at the same time. I've been friends with Mel for over fifteen years and we've had many, many long discussions about life; it was a natural place to go."

The Beaver also features the lovely Cherry Jones as Walter's sympathetic Vice President. Music is by Marcello Zarvos; Director of Photography is Hyen Bogdanski; Written by Kyle Killen; Produced by Steve Golin, Keith Redman and Ann Ruark; and Directed by Jodie Foster.

The brilliant, poignant and deeply emotional dark comedy The Beaver is released courtesy of Icon Home Entertainment on Monday, 10 October 2011. Certification: UK 12 / Republic of Ireland 12 (TBC) | Running Time: 88 Minutes Approximately. Special Features: Deleted scenes with director's commentary | Featurette: Everything Is Going To Be Okay.

"Brilliantly driven, astonishing and empathetically filmed, The Beaver has a lasting effect on all who view it" — Maggie Woods, MotorBar

"*****" — OK! Magazine

"Darkly funny… A phenomenal performance" — Empire

"Bonkers? Yes. Funny? You bet" — Zoo Magazine

"Unique and warm-hearted… one of the most compelling performances of Gibson's career" — Total Film