The Whale

Brendan Fraser explodes as a fat man trying to reconnect with his daughter.

Brendan Fraser has a film career with iconic movies like “The Mummy,” “George of the Jungle,” acclaimed films like “Crash,” bombs like “Monkeybone” and “Furry Vengeance,” and even comebacks like on HBO’s DC series “Doom Patrol” and last year’s “No Sudden Move.” And now, comes an even bigger comeback, and I use that term loosely. “The Whale” features him underneath a substantial amount of make-up to make him look like a 600 pound man named Charlie, who overeats, refuses to go to the hospital, and his blood pressure is well over the limit. In fact, he’s so fat, that on his online English courses, he hides his face from his students, by saying his camera is broken.

The last film director Darren Aronofsky made was “mother,” which left me in a tizzy and left half the world in an uncomfortable state. His next entry “The Whale” is a major improvement-probably his best since “Black Swan.” Only instead of acting like a psychological drama with his style, this one allows Fraser to have a performance like never before-a role so disgusting and yet emotionally complex that he’s able to reach his age. It’s not for the faint of heart or stomach, but it draws you into his world-the choices he’s made and how he wallows in his own filth.

For money reasons, Charlie refuses to go to the hospital, despite strong urges from his nurse Liz (Hong Chau). He just sits in his chair, orders from the local pizza joint, and is so depressed from the loss of the young man of his dreams. That’s how he’s living the Orson Welles final years of his life.

His love for that man has resulted in him leaving his wife (Samantha Morton) and daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink). She’s on the verge of failing school, and only comes back into his life for some money. He agrees to give her all the money he has, so he can spend as much time as he can with her.

On the side, a young missionary named Thomas (Ty Simpkins) pops into his life, because he feels it’s God’s mission to save him, even if the nurse and his superiors think otherwise. But he’s also doing this for personal reasons, ones that could affect his relationship with his family. Parts of it feel pushy, especially when Ellie starts taking pictures of him, but other parts allow his character to express his problems.

“The Whale,” which was written by Samuel D. Hunter (adapting his own play to the big screen), is given that title, not just because of Charlie’s obesity, but because he’s obsessed with an essay on “Moby Dick.” He feels he could relate to the story, and often reads it or have someone else read it, because he wants it to be the last thing he reads or hears before he dies. The opening shot of this movie expresses that quite well.

Fraser’s performance is unbelievable in every way possible, but he doesn’t just carry the film. He also has to receive some amazing supporting work from Chou, Sink, and Morton, who all express their anger towards him for various reasons. Ones I’d rather not spoil, but present them sincerely and emotionally.

Aronofsky’s connection with the actors is different and yet, so dangerous, that you’re able to see the colors inside the characters. Maybe I’m just excited that Fraser has been given his comeback lately, or maybe I’m relieved that the director didn’t make me dizzy the way “mother” did. Either way, I saw “The Whale” for its powerful aspects, especially when Charlie wants people to write their stories. I give this assignment an A-.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4.

In Select Theaters This Friday

Categories: Drama

1 reply

  1. Brendan Fraser’s one of my favorite actors growing up. Can’t wait to see The Whale. It’s my most anticipated film of December 2022 besides Babylon.

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