Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Beaver, dir. Jodie Foster, wr. Kyle Killen, st. Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence

So what's the difference between this and Craig Gillespie's Lars And The Real Girl from 2007, The Beaver's closest thematic twin? Why so universally panned and Lars so universally adored? After all, the plots share so much of the same psycho-exploratory DNA. Why is a talking puppet so much harder to buy into than a blow-up sex doll? It turns out the reasons are sound - and numerous. Although it's not quite the unmitigated disaster it's been made out to be, The Beaver misfires on a number of base levels. Firstly, Kyle Killen's script doesn't have the economic restraint that made Nancy Oliver's Lars dialogue sound so heartfelt and unaffected. Again, both films share an airily oddball score, but whilst David Torn's score for Lars never allows whimsy to over-season empathy, Marcelo Zarvos' score for The Beaver is too knowingly quirky to help give any accurate emotional context to the proceedings. Foster's role as The Wife, Meredith, seems to have been graciously, unceremoniously hacked to shreds to allow this to be Gibson's show, and likewise Anton Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence's romance, already the flimsiest of side-plots, simply has no room to breathe. Ultimately The Beaver, like its protagonist, doesn't really know how to fit in; its hesitancy and reluctance to commit promotes a sense of awkward unease that's pretty tough to shift.