Warm welcome at Cannes for Gibson's "The Beaver"

CANNES, France Tue May 17, 2011 1:33pm EDT

1 of 3. Cast member Mel Gibson and director and cast member Jodie Foster arrive on the red carpet for the screening of the film 'The Beaver' at the 64th Cannes Film Festival, May 17, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Vincent Kessler

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CANNES, France (Reuters) - Jodie Foster's wry look at depression and therapy in "The Beaver" got a warm reception at the Cannes film festival Tuesday, hinting at a possible second life in Europe after it flopped with U.S. audiences.

The film, which stars Mel Gibson in his first major role after a series of scandals tainted his reputation in Hollywood, fell flat on its opening weekend in the United States with ticket sales of just over $100,000.

But an audience of critics at Cannes, where introspective or psychological movies often go down better than elsewhere, laughed loudly several times during a screening and applauded at the end, with one spectator even whooping in delight.

The Beaver, which is not in competition for the Palme d'Or prize for best picture, shifts between comedy and drama as it follows Gibson's character -- a CEO crippled by depression -- through a radical therapy to regain his mental health.

Using a beaver with a British cockney accent as a ventriloquist's hand-puppet, Gibson's character completes a radical about-face in terms of mental health as he revamps his toy company, renews ties with his wife and starts his life anew.

Director Foster defended Gibson as an actor and professional, making light of his personal problems after recordings surfaced of him making an anti-Semitic rant and yelling at his ex-wife.

"He's an outstanding actor: he can do the humorous side and the dark side," said Foster, 48, who has directed four movies including The Beaver. "Most of all he understands that characters struggle... He is somebody who wants to change, who doesn't want to be himself -- that is part of Mel."

Asked what it was like to direct Gibson, whose private life was in turmoil during the shooting, Foster described him as "the least neurotic actor" she had ever worked with and someone willing to reveal himself on-screen.

In the movie, Gibson's character starts out in the depths of clinical depression, drinking himself into a stupor before he tries to hang himself from a shower curtain rod and crashes into the bathtub, wrapped in the curtain.

With its dark subject matter and wry sense of humor, the movie failed to find an audience in the United States, but its producer Keith Redmon said he still held out hope for success in DVD sales and other venues.

"It's not just about the box office -- there are many ways to recoup a film," he said. "We know it will be an issue of time rather than just the first weekend."

Foster skirted the question of money altogether. "I've learned ... that if you gauge your self-worth at the box office, you will be a very sorry person," she said.

(Editing by Steve Addison)

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Comments (3)
soccermom7026 wrote:
Let’s see… The Beaver was warmly received because it’s a great movie…That Brad Pitt movie bombed at the Cannes film Festival because it stinks even though critics here in the states have been boosting it with suck-up stories the entire week! If you do not fully appreciate the stronghold that Hollywood directors and producers have on the success of movies as well as the many bias reviews by so called movie critics, then you should today. Hollywood has an agenda and they will crucify any that go against it-this town is full of little Hitlers..How ironic

May 17, 2011 9:22am EDT  --  Report as abuse
cluetrain wrote:
Thanks to a regrettably limited release, I had to drive two hours just to see “The Beaver” in the US. No doubt that Mel Gibson gives an ineffably harrowing performance in a role that is both enigmatic and Oscar worthy. However, given the tendentious atmosphere and “politics of personal destruction” in Tinseltown it will be interesting to see if Mel gets snubbed by the Academy the same way Mickey Rourke did for “The Wrestler.”

May 17, 2011 3:19pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Wassup wrote:
Hmmm, Foster is right….I never guaged my self worth at the box office, except when I didn’t have the cash for a ticket. Gibson and Foster could do worse than another “Maverick” production with James Garner.

May 17, 2011 10:34pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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