The Beaver, a new film that stars Mel Gibson as a depressive who opts to communicate via a stuffed rodent puppet, premiered at the South by Southwest festival this week, inspiring (at least some) positive reviews, but raising new questions. Even before Gibson's much-publicized abuse of his girlfriend last year (he recently pleaded no contest to a charge of misdemeanor battery), the actor had earned a reputation as an anti-Semite and had effectively been blacklisted from mainstream Hollywood. Will audiences pay to see Gibson on the big screen again?

Give the guy a break: Gibson "is the most loved actor I have ever worked with on a movie," says Jodie Foster, who directed the film, as quoted by The Guardian. Yes, "people say nasty things to cops when they're drunk," and Gibson has made his share of mistakes. But he has had to deal with "a tornado of crisis" that has only been worsened by media scrutiny.
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Gibson might win over the Academy: "It's not outrageous to believe that Oscar voters could turn a great performance by Gibson into an opportunity to reward a onetime bad boy," says Tom O'Neil at the Los Angeles Times. After all, voters honored Roman Polanski, who coerced an underage girl into sex in the '70s, for his work on 2002's The Pianist. They've also rewarded the famously ill-tempered Russell Crowe for Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind. Maybe it's Gibson's turn.
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But first he should apologize more: Gibson still isn't making much of an effort to atone for his transgressions, says Terrence Henry at The Atlantic. "Morally reprehensible" people like Gibson must "make amends and try to redeem themselves" if they want to be forgiven by the public. Until he stops ducking the media and explains himself, he doesn't deserve any sympathy.
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