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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Beaver

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

Walter Black (Mel Gibson) is depressed. Ever since taking over management of his father’s toy company two years previously, he can barely get out of bed. His wife Meredith (Jodi Foster) finally asks him to leave their home. His eldest son Porter (Anton Yelchin) notes every undesirable trait of his father so he will not become like him. Walter’s younger son, Henry (Riley Thomas Stewart), loves his father but is confused.

Walter discovers an old beaver hand puppet in his stuff and decides to use it to communicate. Walter now has an Australian accent when the Beaver is speaking and he asks people to address themselves to the puppet. Thus, Walter manages to get the toy company back on tract and he moves back home.

Porter lives a secret life: he writes papers for other students for cash, and gets involved with the class valedictorian, Nora (Jennifer Lawrence), who wants him to write her speech and then he is caught for writing another student’s paper. Nora has her sorrows as well, opening up a whole other dimension to understanding depression. At dinner for their 20th anniversary Meredith doesn’t want to speak to the Beaver. This does not turn out well.

I have to give Mel Gibson credit for taking on a role that seems like an “apologia pro vita sua” : a defense for some of the tragic moments in his own life that have played out across the media for years. The film invites us to understand the inner life of one who is emotionally or mentally ill, those voices inside their heads, and extend empathy and understanding. Walter, a danger to himself as played out in an off screen moment of self-violence, is hospitalized and gets the help he – and his family - has needed for so long.

I was moved by this poignancy and helplessness portrayed in the film, by those who suffer illness and those who love them. To me, the acting is flawless and direction by Jodie Foster, a longtime friend of Gibson, is strong and right on. More than anything, I wish Mel Gibson well, because he can really hold his own on the screen.


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Jeanne Jugan: 
		<p>Born in northern France during the French Revolution—a time when congregations of women and men religious were being suppressed by the national government, Jeanne would eventually be highly praised in the French academy for her community's compassionate care of elderly poor people.</p>
		<p>When Jeanne was three and a half years old, her father, a fisherman, was lost at sea. Her widowed mother was hard pressed to raise her eight children (four died young) alone. At the age of 15 or 16, Jeanne became a kitchen maid for a family that not only cared for its own members, but also served poor, elderly people nearby. Ten years later, Jeanne became a nurse at the hospital in Le Rosais. Soon thereafter she joined a third order group founded by St. John Eudes (August 19).</p>
		<p>After six years she became a servant and friend of a woman she met through the third order. They prayed, visited the poor and taught catechism to children. After her friend's death, Jeanne and two other women continued a similar life in the city of Saint-Sevran. In 1839, they brought in their first permanent guest. They began an association, received more members and more guests. Mother Marie of the Cross, as Jeanne was now known, founded six more houses for the elderly by the end of 1849, all staffed by members of her association—the Little Sisters of the Poor. By 1853 the association numbered 500 and had houses as far away as England.</p>
		<p>Abbé Le Pailleur, a chaplain, had prevented Jeanne's reelection as superior in 1843; nine year later, he had her assigned to duties within the congregation, but would not allow her to be recognized as its founder. He was removed from office by the Holy See in 1890. </p>
		<p>By the time Pope Leo XIII gave her final approval to the community's constitutions in 1879, there were 2,400 Little Sisters of the Poor. Jeanne died later that same year, on August 30. Her cause was introduced in Rome in 1970, and she was beatified in 1982 and canonized in 2009. </p>
		<p> </p>
American Catholic Blog The people who know God well—the hermits, the prayerful people, those who risk everything to find God—always meet a lover, not a dictator. God is never found to be an abusive father or a manipulative mother, but a lover who is more than we dared hope for.

 
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