& How to Watch Them:
Home for the Holidays (1995): You know what this is... it's a holiday movie... about being forced to be with your family.
The Beaver (2011): Mel Gibson showers with a stuffed beaver in an effort to find himself and save his relationship with his family. Really.
Your imprint on my world is freaky. It felt like you knew me when I was not yet knowable. Freaky Friday’s Annabel, Stealing Home’s Katie Chandler, Driver’s Iris, to Brave One’s Erica, there is just not the time. But, your acting work made my isolating world feel not so alone. Your film direction magnifies this gift. I see you as a lover of aliens—those alien to one’s body, one’s gender, one’s family, one’s world, one’s dreams. Your films do not judge, or turn us away—the queer, the alien, the different. You gently summon your audience closer, gesturing to the difficult and uncomfortable parts of humanity we share, but often resist or deny. You help us to know our aliens differently.
Home for the Holidays. My yearly tradition of loving dysfunction and the dysfunction of love. Each Larson at that dining table is a stranger, aching to be recognized by their family (knowing, deep down, they never will be—not how they need). Like The Beaver’s Porter routinely smashing his head into his bedroom drywall, eventually breaking clean through, peering beyond pink insulation at the outside world, your alienated characters scream in solitude, claustrophobic but alone.
To paraphrase Home’s Joanne, ‘If you met these people on the street and they gave you’re their number, you’d throw it away.’
In the final scene of The Beaver, Porter and Walter—the disaffected son and the lost mentally ill father—break down. They flee the safety of their own private universe. We see them see each other, flawed, broken, and desperate. They connect and collapse into one another in ways men rarely can or will. It is terrifying and shattering, but infused with hope and risk. It, like so many of your fragile aliens, expose something so raw and harrowingly vulnerable, almost too dangerously honest to exist in their world. You turn your camera to them, in all their queerness, and invite us to see heroism reimagined.