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Gibson: From a Brave Heart to Over the Edge of Darkness

Remember, there are always two sides to every relationship complaint — but if Mel is smart, he’ll take a long break from Hollywood

As someone who spends every summer in Edinburgh, Scotland, going to the arts, film, book and fringe theater festival there during August, I remember very well when Mel Gibson’s movie "Braveheart" came out because I was very excited to see how the depiction of Scottish legend William Wallace was handled.

Mel Gibson BraveheartI realize, being English, that most of the movie was about fighting my fellow countrymen, but this is irrelevant as I loved the film. In fact, I recall thinking when it came out: Mel Gibson has taken on an epic character and story and achieved something special.

It certainly made me think twice about just how multitalented the actor-director and "Lethal Weapon" star is. Or, should I say, was?

Because, let’s face it, Mr Gibson hasn’t exactly been on many Top 10 Favorite People lists for some time now, what with his widely publicized drunken, anti-Semitic tirade to a police officer in 2006, being dropped recently by his agent William Morris Endeavor, the alleged domestic violence he’s been accused of by his model-singer and ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva (and the custody battle for their daughter), the abusive rants recorded on tape purported to contain his slurring voice, and now the delaying of his Jodie Foster-directed new movie "The Beaver."

The guy is not having a good time of it, and perhaps it’s slightly too apt that Gibson’s last big film to be released was called "Edge of Darkness." If you believe some film critics, Gibson is now toxic and may have stepped over that dark edge and into the deep, fiery pit of End of Career Hell.

Personally, I don’t agree with them (or Hollyblogger Tom Teicholz), or believe it will be the end of movies for Mel Gibson.

Why? Well, for one, let’s balance out the domestic-violence accusations, shall we? Because, put simply, in any long-term relationship there are ALWAYS two sides to the story.

Yes, it is unfortunate there’s a tape allegedly containing Gibson’s voice threatening his ex, and it is a pretty horrible and racist tape. But if you’ve heard it, you might also note that (1) If it is indeed him, Mel Gibson does not sound very well or in any kind of right mind; and (2) Grigorieva’s tone might potentially, in some people’s minds, come across as somewhat goading (might, I said).

I don’t wish to stick up for Gibson’s alleged irrational and abusive behavior, but in these kinds of domestic violence cases the guy – Gibson in this case – often comes off worse (I can hear the "boo hiss" from the women reading this). Men do tend to get the blame for being hot-headed, seeming to be violent and/or making threats in the heat of an argument; then they subsequently become the “baddie” in everyone’s eyes. This is, usually, even if the woman has fully partaken in shouting at and verbally abusing the man as part of an argument – or during their relationship in general. Sadly, men respond inappropriately to this “in the moment” without thinking clearly enough about the consequences later on.

I don’t, of course, condone any kind of domestic violence, and sexist or threatening behavior by men or women, but I’m making the point – in a sensible British stiff-upper-lip journalistic fashion – that people should wait to see what the police and courts have to say and shouldn’t write Mr Gibson off so easily.

I’ll repeat: In a relationship there are ALWAYS two sides. Whether it’s passive-aggressive behavior that causes anger and frustration in a partner, or psychological taunting over a long period of time, there are often a lot of hidden problems in a couple's relationships that no one – not even the courts or the Court of the Media – could ever understand properly. And these problems only get more twisted and more complicated when a couple is at war, especially over children.

Mel Gibson Edge of DarknessSo now is the time Gibson needs to step away from himself. Before he does something even more monumentally dumb than he has already. Because, it seems, Gibson is quite possibly still having trouble with alcohol and needs further help with this. And, as we all know, based on Gibson’s “priors”, people who are 24/7 drunk don’t behave rationally.

I think the "Man Without a Face" star should – once the custody battle is finalized and the alleged charges of domestic violence either stick or are dismissed – take a couple of years out of the movie industry, rejuvenate, have some therapy, return to Australia and shear some sheep, chop wood, drink cheap but non-alcoholic Oz beer, go walkabout in the Outback, think about what kind of man he’d like to become and then – slowly – relaunch his career with some very wise film choices in the future.

Because you can’t, as they say, keep a good man down.

It’s arguable whether Mel Gibson is a good man (I’ve personally never worked with him on a movie, so I can’t comment on what he’s like on-set to be around), but he certainly is a talented man. I thought his acting in "Edge of Darkness" was phenomenally nuanced, passionate and believable.

Even if Gibson did have a mini-revival to his career for several years, he has failed to keep up the momentum of this revival at the same time as having a successful personal life. They are tricky things to do together, so maybe Gibson should reassess his priorities for a while and – once everyone’s calmed down – he should go about making new friends in the movie business in a different way than he did before. Perhaps he should find himself a new woman who calms him and brings him peace (or, alternatively, stay away from women for quite some time — that probably would be much wiser), and then definitely show us once again he is exceptionally good at telling big, epic, moving stories.

Anthony Burt is a writer, journalist and voice-over artist from south west England, U.K. Founder of Epic Creations, for the past eight years he has written and edited books, scripts and magazine/newspaper articles for the BBC, the Guardian, Macmillan, Harpercollins, Parragon and Haymarket. He's a passionate film fan who believes in chasing your dreams, so is temporarily based in L.A. pursuing a screenwriting career at the same time as writing a new novel (and getting a Californian suntan).