The Whale (Drama) [Based on Play] (2022)
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writer: Samuel D. Hunter (Based on Play by)
Stars: Brendan Fraser, Hong Chau, Ty Simpkins, Sadie Sink
Teaching English classes online, a morbidly obese father spends his final days reconnecting with his estranged daughter and finds meaning in her unadulterated honesty.
Portraying a man on the fringe of society, Darren Aronofsky continues a series of sorts following ‘’The Wrestler’’ and ‘’Black Swan’’. It’s a heart-wrenching enlightening experience shown in a way few can. Before landing on Fraser starring and Aronofsky directing, James Cordon was considered to play the lead role, being directed by Tom Ford and later even George Clooney. Filming took place in Newburgh, New York. It has been produced by Protozoa Pictures and distributed by A24.
Working from home, the morbidly obese Charlie (Brendan Fraser) tutors English classes. Hiding his visage, his webcam is permanently disabled. On most days, the only visitor allowed is his caretaker and friend Liz, whose surprised to see a missionary from the New Life Church visiting and trying to transmit the word of God. When his daughter also makes a surprise visit, he tries desperately to reconnect with her, seeing it as his last good act, offering his remaining funds, only to have her spend time in his squalor apartment.
Within society growing increasingly self-involved, Aronofsky humanises an understatedly morose individual. Evoking feelings of disgust, Charlie is portrayed to be understood even while shunned as a recluse. Life takes a toll on people, and Fraser’s Charlie provides cause and effect in the most deliberate way.
To provide a feature likely to receive high praise during award season, it seems intelligent to depict single-location drama, human stories not relying on effects or the like, instead being a reflection on society. That happened in 2021, with ‘’The Father’’ earning Best Actor on the Year-In Awards for this very website, and it stands to happen again with Fraser’s depiction of the unhealthily obese Charlie.
That said, ‘’The Whale’’ would be far from the same without Fraser’s performance and Hollywood comeback. Simply imagine what ‘’The Whale’’ could’ve been with James Cordon in the leading role while he’s in his niche, and I don’t doubt he’d bring something to the part; the emotional performances by Fraser, Sink and Chau just hit differently. Moments when Chau takes Simpkins’ Thomas aside to break through to his stubborn evangelism, stood apart, and Sink proving she’s more than just Max from ‘’Stranger Things’’, shedding the flavourless part played in ‘’Dear Zoe’’, despite giving it her honest best effort.
An unfortunate introduction to Charlie leads to an unimaginable chronicle, using diverse small-town U.S. folk with intense, well-written dialogue, which isn’t as transcendent as Charlie’s fate, but grants depth through simplicity.
A whale of a time.