Based on the play of the same name by Samuel D. Hunter and directed by Darren Aronfsky comes the theatrical adaption of The Whale. Starring Brendan Fraser as Charlie, the story follows a reclusive and morbidly obese English teacher who is coming to the end of his life. His last wish is to reconnect with his estranged daughter for one last chance of redemption.
As the last award nominated film that I was interested in, I couldn’t believe my luck when I had the chance to see it ahead of its initial release. It may seem simple; at times I was reminded of the fact that it was originally a play due to its solo location and small cast of characters, but I appreciated the fact that it was more intimate that way and of course, it helped with the difficult subject matter.
The story was pretty awful. I found it hard to watch at times, but I also couldn’t help but resonate with Charlie and his loneliness. Although that may have been self inflicted, it didn’t make it any less upsetting. I felt his embarrassment and I wish I could have mended his broken heart. At the end of the day, though, it seemed as if his mind was made up.
If Brendan Fraser does not win Oscar for this role, then I don’t know anymore. He put everything he could into Charlie and it moved me to tears. I just sat there at the end of the film in utter disbelief at what I had watched. There were also some brilliant performances by the supporting cast. Hong Chau as Charlie’s friend Liz, Ty Simpkins as missionary Thomas, Samantha Morton as Charlie’s ex Mary and Sadie Sink as Charlie’s daughter Ellie gave it their all.
Overall, The Whale is a film that everybody should watch. It will make you uncomfortable, it will make you cry and it will make you think. While it may not be super strong in its plot, it more than makes up for it in its performances.