Jodie Foster’s 2011 low-flying comedy The Beaver is a unique piece of filmmaking. Mel Gibson stars as Walter Black, the CEO of a toy company who has a nervous breakdown, loses his family, and tries to hang himself from a hotel shower curtain. (It is a comedy; wait for it.) On the edge of death, Black snaps completely and allows his life to be taken over by a beaver puppet. Using the beaver to communicate with the world, Black slowly manages to find the broken pieces of his life and put them back together…here comes the comedy part…but still can’t connect to his depressed son who hates the fact that he’s growing up to be exactly like his father. And his wife still can’t stand him. And his employees think he’s lost his mind.
And, well, that covers all the “funny” parts. Dark doesn’t come close to describing the humor. This is blacker than a coal mine after a cave-in, an intimate portrait of depression and mental illness that flows so seamlessly from Gibson’s acting that you can’t help but believe he’s channeling his own personal experiences. With incredible supporting performances from Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, and Jennifer Lawrence, The Beaver is definitely a hidden gem worth watching, if only once. Although afterward you may need to watch something a little more light-hearted. Like Schindler’s List.