There may be a movie that could save Mel Gibson’s career, but this ain’t it. Never mind the premise. The Beaver is flawed from top to bottom because there isn’t a single scene you believe. Every metaphor in the script is leaden; every possibility of black humour is ignored. The family at the centre are a bad writer’s idea of a family. And no homily is rejected as being too corny or undeserved. Frankly, I wanted to flog screenwriter Kyle Killen with that damn glove-puppet. His writing has about as much truth as an anti-aging commercial. Make no mistake: this is a shallow precocious screenplay. It’s all hat and no cattle, as the saying goes. Like a bad ventriloquist, all you can hear is a lack of talent talking at you.
At some point, in any good fake documentary, there must come a moment where the people shout “Run!” This is followed, in time-honoured tradition, by tightly edited footage of people running away, which no-one who was actually running would even have bothered to shoot, let alone shoot from different angles. We accept this ruse as part of the game. It’s a wonder anyone has the gall to play this stuff straight. Lucky for us, the makers of Troll Hunter understand the inherent ridiculousness of leaving the camera on when you’re fleeing for your life, and their movie is plays more like Spinal Tap than The Blair Witch Project. I don’t know if it was part of the joke to make a droll troll movie, but the tone seems to fit.
Despair engulfs you as you watch this film. You can feel it rising in every scene; a sense of dread, and powerlessness; something primordial, and filled with awe. But it isn’t depressing in the way you might expect. There’s nothing small or dreary on show here. Depression isn’t represented in real world terms. It’s another world; literally, a planet called Melancholia is on a collision course with Earth. It’s been “hiding behind the sun” (we’re informed, in a very droll piece of exposition). Now it comes to swallow us. All the love in the world might as well be dirt. All our achievements will come to nothing. Melancholia (the film) is a high tragedy, like half of all operas. When we see into the void, we’re meant to be swept away.