Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 12A
  • Drama
  • 2011

The Beaver

The Beaver


Troubled Walter Black (Mel Gibson) is going off the deep end until he learns to communicate using a hand puppet. Jodie Foster also stars and directs.


Truly an oddity for our times, The Beaver tells the story of a man (Mel Gibson) so chronically depressed he feels he cannot communicate directly with anyone around him. He is estranged from his wife (Jodie Foster) and his elder son (Anton Yelchin) and cackhandedly attempts to hang himself, but can't even get that right.

Then he finds a mouldy old puppet in a dumpster and from then on, using the puppet to communicate, finds renewed career success, mends his marriage and at least for a while seems to be able to function in society. It's the old story: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy meets puppet, boy has sex with girl while wearing puppet, boy gets girl back again.

As a narrative, it rates similarly high on the quirk-o-meter to films like Lars And The Real Girl, Little Miss Sunshine or Mozart And The Whale, and yet it feels more outlandish. This is of course in huge part down the casting of Mel Gibson in the lead role. A star of that size, even when that star is tarnished, pulls focus from the rest of the ensemble. It doesn't help that other plotlines are a little quirk-by-numbers. Yelchin's bright but angsty teen makes money by forging essays for other students, something he pulls off by studying them like a method actor to learn their style. But we can't seem to care because hanging over the film is the spectre of Gibson - we're just waiting for his next scene, and not because he's especially compelling in the role, but because he's Mel Gibson.

In The Beaver's favour, it offers an experience unlike anything else you've seen, but despite that, it's not a very involving experience. Leaving Gibson's much-publicised extra-curricular troubles out of the equation entirely, this is still not particularly a character that we root for, despite the obvious sympathetic touchstone of a father shut out of his children's lives, and that's a problem for a film that, despite its outlandish premise, is at its heart a character study.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence, Jodie Foster, Mel Gibson
  • Director: Jodie Foster
  • Producer: Steve Golin

In a nutshell

Essential viewing for film students because it's unsuccessful in a genuinely unusual way, this is somewhat tedious once the initial novelty of seeing Mel Gibson talk using a beaver puppet has worn off. Oh, did we mention he does so in a Cockney accent? Would you Adam and Eve it.

by Catherine Bray

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4


    Katell Quillévéré's family-based drama follows Suzanne, a teenage mother who falls for a gangster

  • Film4

    The Purge

    Ethan Hawke stars in James DeMonaco's drama about a sanctioned night where all crime is legal

  • Channel 4 Blog

    BIFA brings 2015 nominated films to cinemas

    BIFA-nominated films including the Film4-backed 45 Years, The Lobster, Macbeth, Amy and Ex Machina will be available in cinemas nationwide from 23 November in a special public screenings event. The

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Film4-backed films receive 41 nominations at the BIFAs

    Film4 has received a total of 41 nominations for the films it has backed at this year¿s British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs), with the nomination lists for the Best British Film and Best Director a

Register with

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register