By Alec Santos
“The Whale” is a powerful and thought-provoking film directed by modern cinema hero, Darren Aronofsky.
Released in 2022, this film has made a significant impact on audiences worldwide with its unique storyline and incredible performances from a uniquely high-powered cast featuring star Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, Hong Chau and Ty Simpkins.
Based on Samuel D. Hunter’s play, “The Whale” follows the life of Charlie (Brendan Fraser), a 600-pound gay man who is confined to his apartment. His health is deteriorating rapidly, and he is trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink).
As Charlie’s physical and emotional pain increases, he turns to his online English class and friends for comfort.
It is also very much apparent as to why the film has received two Academy Awards, one Satellite Award, one Critics’ Choice Award and one Screen Actors Guild Award.
Leading actor Fraser delivers an outstanding performance as Charlie, portraying his character’s vulnerability and emotional turmoil with sincerity.
He immerses himself in the role of a lonely and isolated individual, creating a connection with the audience that is both so moving and profound, that it received a 10-minute standing ovation on premiere night.
In addition to Fraser’s performance, the film’s supporting cast is exceptionally amazing, with thespians like Sadie Sink, most notable for her role as Max in “Stranger Things,” Hong Chau from HBO’s “Watchmen,” and Ty Simpkins from the “Jurassic World” series.
Each performer contributes not only to the story’s emotional depth but also puts themselves out in the open as actors by playing roles that are new to their filmography.
The film’s themes are challenging, exploring issues of grief, loneliness and the complexities of human relationships. Through its exploration of Charlie’s struggles, the film draws attention to issues of body shaming and the challenges that overweight individuals face in society.
Often, the film explores those social issues in context of personal relationships. The film explores these themes through the connection between Charlie and his antagonistic daughter Ellie as he tries to reconcile with her by offering to complete her school work, just for a chance to get to know who she really is as a person before the clock stops ticking.
For the role of Charlie, lead actor Brendan Fraser explained his connection to the character.
“‘The Whale’ was something so far removed from anything I had ever seen before or even attempted,” Fraser said. “Playing a character who has such a shroud of regret and he’s been living alone, he’s been harming himself by overeating, he desperately wants to reconnect with his daughter in the amount of time that he has left if he can.”
Aronofsky’s direction is subtle yet impactful, with the film’s visual elements enhancing the story’s emotional intensity. The movie’s cinematography and score work together seamlessly to create a deeply immersive and emotional experience.
Overall, “The Whale” is a remarkable film that delivers a heartfelt and sincere exploration of human emotions and relationships. With its exceptional performances and powerful storytelling, it is a must-see for anyone looking for a thought-provoking and emotional cinema experience.
Personally, growing up knowing people who very much resemble the character of Charlie, emotionally and physically, brought a different perspective for me onto the film, which also made the viewing a very hard watch, but the film perfectly executes the raw nature of the human experience.
Rating: 10 / 10