Cannes 2011. Jodie Foster presents her third feature film out of competition: the story of a totally depressed businessman and father, who finds refuge with a ventriloquist puppet. First presented as therapeutic, this sometimes steamy masquerade will quickly turn into a real state of schizophrenic distress.
With this film, Jodie Foster settles into a tragicomic family tale with which she will take pleasure in playing with our perception of good and evil. Although the work was poorly received when it was released, it is refreshing.
Depression is difficult to represent on the screen, as much by the taboos that surround it as by the fragility of the information. Yet Foster brings it to life, through a remarkable and touching Mel Gibson. As usual, the actor finds his balance and delivers a vibrant piece, in the body of an asthenic Walter Black, at the bottom of the abyss, which no longer has any essence in him but which, little by little, will resume its place in the world using a fluffy shield.
However, reconversion is illusory. First the hero has fun, presenting the beaver [« castor » en anglais, ndlr] as a therapeutic exercise. With him in his fist, he recovers a place with the quartet of Blacks and sets afloat his so much neglected company. But the more time passes, the more Walter will adapt to this framework, to the point of giving the beaver total omnipresence. This one will take possession of the whole of his host, who in spite of himself will relapse into solitude, forced to have to choose between his tormentor and his family life. This is where our spectator instinct, at rest by the exhilarating puppet show, suddenly becomes restless. Worried about our hero who finds himself subjected to the placebo effect of his miracle remedy.
We salute the director’s anamorphic shots, which make the duo totally inseparable and constantly play on the balance of who controls who. To escape this mental prison, Walter will have to come to grips with a violent and ruthless beaver; until the only solution is a clean break in their relationship. In this, our hero will end up one-armed but lucid.
Foster shrewdly directs his camera, which can be seen upstream on Gibson; he is in control, he knows what he is doing. But the more important the disease becomes, the more the axis lingers on the oppressive mouth of the stuffed animal. We understand then that the host is no longer the dominant one, that the madness is very real.
Refusing to fall into Hollywood comedy, our regular on the red carpet offers a touching content to this dramatic progression, armed with a headliner in total abandonment.
No doubts about the talents of actress Jodie Foster, who also received the Palme d’Or of honor this year. But we can now add her to talented directors. A director with narrow scenarios but framed like ballets, both touching and personal.
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The Beaver – Datasheet
- Original title: The Beaver
- Director: Jodie Foster
- Screenplay: Kyle Killen
- Cast: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence, Cherry Jones
- Production: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Dramatic comedy
- Duration: 91mn
- Release date: May 2011
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