Gibson’s latest film (finally) released to surprisingly good reviews

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With Charlie Sheen filling the role of Hollywood’s resident trainwreck, it may have seemed like the perfect time for Summit Entertainment to schedule a premiere for Mel Gibson’s latest film, which had been delayed due to Gibson’s relationship troubles.

But while “The Beaver,” directed by Jodie Foster who also plays Gibson’s wife, was screened Wednesday at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, its star was being booked at El Segundo Police Department.

According to Access Hollywood, Gibson pleaded no contest to a charge of misdemeanor battery against ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva and was sentenced to probation and counseling.

Regardless, the film received strong reviews from critics.

Hollywood Reporter reviewer John Defore wrote, “viewers who can shake off tabloid preoccupations as they settle into the film will likely be surprised by a picture that … turns a crazy-sounding premise into something moving and sane.”

Gibson plays a clinically depressed, suicidal man who attempts to sort out his life with the help of a “prescription” beaver hand puppet.  MSN film critic James Rocchi tweeted that the “big, jokey premise creates small, quiet places to examine depression and pain.”

Foster, who showed support for Gibson, told People that she hopes the film will help audiences reconnect with the troubled actor. “The most beautiful part of Mel, I think, is onscreen,” Foster said at Wednesday’s premiere.

“People will see the movie, and they’ll see what an incredibly deep and committed performance he gives,” said Foster, “and hopefully they’ll have some insight into who Mel is as a human being.”