From Darren Aronofsky comes The Whale, the story of a reclusive English teacher who attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter. Starring Brendan Fraser and based on the acclaimed play by Samuel D. Hunter.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
Brendan Fraser recently won the Academy Award for Best Actor for The Whale. He deserved it. He’s fantastic in the film even if I didn’t love the actual film itself. His performance announced to the world that his comeback was in full swing and he’s once again a major leading man in Hollywood.
As for the movie, you have to ask yourself one question, do you like Darren Aronofsky films? If the answer is no, you won’t like it. If the answer is yes, you probably will. I don’t. The Wrestler is his only film I’ve seen more than once. I respect his talents as a filmmaker, but don’t really enjoy the heavy handed themes of his movies. This is a prime example of that.
Fraser plays a 600 pound reclusive man named Charlie who teaches online, orders delivery and never has to leave his apartment. His only friend (Hong Chau in an Oscar worthy performance as well) does the best she can for his health, but also knows he’s not well. This is what I liked about the film, its honesty. Fraser has accepted he’s dying sooner rather than later. He’s not suicidal or wanting death, he’s just honest about himself and knows his time is soon.
The problem is the story. Are we supposed to feel sorry for Charlie or root for him to get his life in order? He’s not doing anything to better himself because again he’s just accepted his life as is. A missionary boy shows up at his door and soon wants to help Charlie, but he isn’t open to it. He knows that religious group well and wants no part of it.
Then his estranged daughter shows up and that’s where it lost me. I don’t think it’s Sadie Sink’s fault the daughter is absolutely terrible, I just think she was written that way. I pretty much hated her from the beginning. Nothing about her is worth liking and she has not one single redeeming quality. She tries to ruin the missionary boy’s life with photographs. She’s awful to her father and I understand he left her and her mom for another person, but get over yourself. She acts like she’s the only kid to ever come from a broken home before and puts everything on her father. He’s been gone for years, in that time period you’ve done nothing to make your life better? Nope, she just sits in her hatred of him and uses it as an excuse to be terrible. Her character destroys the movie for me.
Fraser 100% deserves his Oscar, but The Whale continues my trend of not enjoying Aronofsky flicks. It’s based on a stage performance and it should have stayed that way. It’s pretty much all one location (Charlie’s apartment) and it needed something more to it. All the characters feel trapped and none of them feel more than one dimensional. I’m glad Brendan Fraser is making a comeback because he seems like a great guy, I just wish his comeback was in a great movie.
Brendan Fraser The Mummy, Crash, TV’s “Doom Patrol”
Sadie Sink TV’s “Stranger Things,” Eli, The Glass Castle
Hong Chau The Menu, Downsizing, TV’s “Homecoming,” TV’s “The Watchmen”
Ty Simpkins Jurasssic World, Avengers: Endgame, Iron Man 3, TV’s “The Guiding Light
Samantha Morton TV’s “The Walking Dead,” Minority Report, Cosmopolis, The Messenger