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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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Philip and James: 
		<b>James, Son of Alphaeus:</b> We know nothing of this man except his name, and of course the fact that Jesus chose him to be one of the 12 pillars of the New Israel, his Church. He is not the James of Acts, son of Clopas, “brother” of Jesus and later bishop of Jerusalem and the traditional author of the Letter of James. James, son of Alphaeus, is also known as James the Lesser to avoid confusing him with James the son of Zebedee, also an apostle and known as James the Greater. 
<p><b>Philip:</b> Philip came from the same town as Peter and Andrew, Bethsaida in Galilee. Jesus called him directly, whereupon he sought out Nathanael and told him of the “one about whom Moses wrote” (John 1:45). </p><p>Like the other apostles, Philip took a long time coming to realize who Jesus was. On one occasion, when Jesus saw the great multitude following him and wanted to give them food, he asked Philip where they should buy bread for the people to eat. St. John comments, “[Jesus] said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do” (John 6:6). Philip answered, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little [bit]” (John 6:7). </p><p>John’s story is not a put-down of Philip. It was simply necessary for these men who were to be the foundation stones of the Church to see the clear distinction between humanity’s total helplessness apart from God and the human ability to be a bearer of divine power by God’s gift. </p><p>On another occasion, we can almost hear the exasperation in Jesus’ voice. After Thomas had complained that they did not know where Jesus was going, Jesus said, “I am the way...If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him” (John 14:6a, 7). Then Philip said, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us” (John 14:8). Enough! Jesus answered, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9a). </p><p>Possibly because Philip bore a Greek name or because he was thought to be close to Jesus, some Gentile proselytes came to him and asked him to introduce them to Jesus. Philip went to Andrew, and Andrew went to Jesus. Jesus’ reply in John’s Gospel is indirect; Jesus says that now his “hour” has come, that in a short time he will give his life for Jew and Gentile alike.</p> American Catholic Blog Only in human weakness do many of us begin to rely on God and explicitly repudiate our own divine ambitions. Every pain alerts us to the fact that we are not the Almighty.

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