“The Beaver” — the frequently delayed, quirky movie that casts Mel Gibson as a guy who copes with life by talking to a beaver hand puppet — made its debut Wednesday at the South by Southwest festival. The response so far, from media outlets and on Twitter, is mixed, but several early reviews express their admiration of Gibson’s performance.
“Viewers who can shake off tabloid preoccupations as they settle into the film will likely be surprised by a picture that (in a way reminiscent of ‘Lars and the Real Girl’) turns a crazy-sounding premise into something moving and sane,” writes The Hollywood Reporter.
“Gibson gives it his best, and delivers a great performance — but it just isn’t enough to get me to care about the character’s well being or even believe the concept as a whole,” sas Peter Sciretta at slashfilm.
James Rocchi, film critic for MSN Movies and correspondent for the Toronto Star, tweeted about “The Beaver”: “A big, jokey premise creates small, quiet spaces to examine depression and pain; it’s unique, and I’m not ... suggesting it’s perfect, but parts of it hurt like hell and earn that hurt.”
And then there’s the Guardian, which is less impressed by Gibson and director Jodie Foster’s ability to handle the material: “Gibson is undeniably well cast, yet even ignoring the baggage he now shoulders, it’s hard to feel moved by his performance: all control and guile, even in the most emotional moments. What it is, from time to time, is genuinely frightening.”
So clearly some people don’t love it, but the overall response suggests that people may like it, or at least not wildly hate it, and that most won’t balk at the notion of seeing Gibson in a starring role again. That counts as something of a triumph, given the circumstances surrounding the movie.
“The Beaver” opens in theaters in May; given this early reaction, are you more or less likely to go see it? Or do your feelings about the film and Gibson remain unchanged?