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The only way to truly break out of the box is to get rid of it all together...


The Beaver 
(2011)

 Jodie Foster's Beaver is split between an intelligent take on a man's descent into depression and psychosis and a rather less elegant exploration of the effects of this on his family, notably his teenage son. Foster's decision not to play for laughs or use tricks (at one point this was considered as a Jim Carrey vehicle, apparently) allows for a particularly raw performance from Mel Gibson (and from this point of view his character most certainly doesn't get a Hollywood ending, which is not necessarily saying the film ends on a downer.)

But it also highlights that the script and characterisations could have used a few more drafts. The older son (Anton Yelchin) only ever feels like a scriptwriter's invention (listing his father's behavioural traits which he doesn't want to copy and having a remarkable empathic insight into his classmates while being royally screwed up himself) and is indulged with significant screen-time. 


This includes his burgeoning relationship with the delectable now-superstar Jennifer Lawrence. Foster is as subtle and undemanding of attention as you'd expect as Gibson’s wife while the mop-top playing the younger son is very natural. The film is commendably brief in running time, but there are sudden lurches that seem too hasty (Gibson being accepted back into the house with beaver, a later drastic action) and conceits (the beaver toy set) that seem less likely to succeed in the real world than in movie land.

***1/2

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