‘The Whale’ Movie Review – Brendan Fraser portrays the title character in Darren Aronofsky’s American drama movie “The Whale” in 2022. The movie’s script was written by Samuel D. Hunter, who also wrote the play with the same name in 2012. Ty Simpkins, Samantha Morton, Hong Chau, and Sadie Sink are also featured in the movie.
On September 4, 2022, “The Whale“ made its global premiere at the 79th Venice International Film Festival. On December 9, 2022, “A24” released ‘The Whale’ in the US.
“The Whale” Movie Synopsis
The narrative of a reclusive English teacher who tries to get in touch with his estranged teenage daughter is told in “The Whale,” according to A24.
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“The Whale” (2022) Movie Story
Charlie is a professor of writing at a college who lives alone. He turns off his laptop’s camera so that the pupils can’t see him when he teaches online. As directed by Darren Aronofsky and his go-to cinematographer, Matthew Libatique, the movie camera spends most of its time inside. Occasionally, you catch a glimpse of Charlie’s low-rise home’s façade or a breath of fresh air on the landing outside his front door. But these breaks merely serve to highlight a chronic feeling of captivity.
“The Whale,” which was adapted from a play by Samuel D. Hunter, is a study on claustrophobia. Aronofsky amplifies the stagnation, the disastrous sensation of stuckness that characterizes Charlie’s existence, rather than breaking out a stage-bound text as a less assured film director might. Charlie is imprisoned—in his apartments, in a chaotic existence, and most importantly, in his own body. He claims that despite always being a huge guy after his lover committed suicide, his eating “simply got out of control.” His heart is failing, his blood pressure is rising, and just getting up and sitting down requires much effort and artificial support.
The film’s main special effect and guiding emblem is Charlie’s size. Brendan Fraser, who plays Charlie and is covered in prosthetic skin, turns in an occasionally disarmingly graceful performance. He conveys a delicateness that contrasts with the character’s physical ugliness with his voice and his large, sad eyes. But almost everything about Charlie emphasizes his sadness to the point where it starts to feel cruel and invasive. This includes the sound of his breathing and the way he eats, moves, and perspires.
“The Whale” (2022) Movie Reviews
Charlie (Fraser) teaches English remotely, but he conceals himself behind the computer screen and won’t let his students see what he truly looks like. He weighed 600 pounds and became reclusive after his lover died due to sadness. He only sees Liz, his best friend, and nurse, these days (Chau).
He is at peace with the fact that he is approaching the end of his life. He thus desires reconciliation with his teenage daughter Ellie (Sink), whom he and his wife Mary (Samantha Morton) left behind in favor of another man. But the more they connect, the more convoluted the scenario only gets.
The tone of Charlie’s online English lesson in The Whale is that of a self-conscious individual who has cut himself off from the outside world. To avoid society’s injustices and judgments, he avoids any human interaction at all costs. Even though Ellie brings a lot of this ferocity with her, Charlie sees her arrival as a gift. Despite the fact that his entire existence has been condensed into his tiny apartment, he still has to deal with his own fears, which may make even seemingly harmless activities like watching pornography or moving to a different room dangerous.
Charlie frantically seeks life in those around him, even his students’ essays, and looks for meaning in everything. He also looks for it in his encounters with Liz, Ellie, and Thomas (Ty Simpkins), a young religious boy who thinks he can redeem him. In the process, everyone close to Charlie tries to figure out what their own lives signify, and ultimately, for better or worse, it all returns to the reclusive man.
The subject of helpfulness vs. helplessness runs throughout Hunter’s screenplay. These characters are all attempting to assist one another in different ways, some physically and some psychologically. The Whale raises the question of when assistance can actually do more harm than good. However, it testifies to the lack of or presence of altruism in the human situation. This small ensemble of characters each brings their own prejudices, imprinting them on the deeper-than-any-of-themselves personal struggles of the others.
The Whale highlights the value of written communication. In his most distressing moments, Charlie repeats a memorized essay that he had written in the past, word for word. Thomas makes an effort to apply the Bible’s teachings on tranquillity. Faith and religion both play significant roles, though not usually simultaneously. Hunter wonders if these tools can save someone or, at the absolute least, bring peace to their soul.
Aronofsky adds more melancholy to The Whale. It is based on Hunter’s 2012 play of the same name, and the cinematic adaption closely resembles it. In a scene devoid of color, Matthew Libatique’s cinematography establishes stark claustrophobia, leaving the actors to inject life into the film. Fraser delivers everything he has as Charlie, but Chau shines as Liz. Unfortunately, that’s the extent of the compliments.
The Whale presents a hefty platter with a big bucket of fried chicken as the toxic and glaring representation of weight gain. The consuming issue is explored from both extremes, which comes out as insultingly artificial and manipulative. The disturbing shots of Charlie drinking are accompanied by Rob Simonsen’s music, which finally overshadows the character.
Although Charlie’s story is rife with cruelty and hopelessness, he lacks any depth beyond his grief. Even in the past, there is no sign of any joy, despite occasional tales of his contentment with his deceased lover. Ellie loses all hope in humanity after her father is abandoned, but Charlie tries to continue to find the best in people. However, Aronofsky asks us to accept him at his word and doesn’t provide anything for the audience to grasp onto to make these characters feel entirely realized.
The Whale looks for a greater truth, but it doesn’t question its own prescriptive message. Some of the most important emotional scenes in the movie suffer from overdramatization to the point of parody, while Hunter tries odd comedic attempts that fall flat.
The content underpays the audience by unleashing an unrelenting barrage of excessive brutality with no payoff. Reaching for the easy targets while haphazardly tugging at the heartstrings as hard as it can, it fails to develop any of the ideas it gives into something interesting. But it lacks the consideration to explain the emotional gyrations it makes. When The Whale can’t even find honesty for its own lead character, it expects to elicit sympathy.
“The Whale” is exclusively in movie theaters. A streaming release date has yet to be announced.