A morbidly obese teacher realizes he's dying and tries to use the
time he has left to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter.
The Whale (2022)
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Written by Samuel D. Hunter
Starring Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, Hong Chau,
Ty Simpkins, Samantha Morton
Based on the stage play by Samuel D. Hunter
There was a time around 2010 where we suddenly stopped seeing box office star Brendan Fraser in mainstream films. The third Mummy film tanked, nobody cared about Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Fraser was essentially phased out with dead-end films like Extraordinary Measures and Furry Vengeance. Then, we found out about his tumultuous divorce and his sexual assault at the hands of a powerful producer. Through it all, us Brendan Fraser fans never lost faith. We knew he'd be back when he was ready. And what a comeback this was.
All I've heard about The Whale has been about Fraser's performance, which was career-defining. You can see how much of his own pain and pressure he put into his performance as Charlie. This film charges you to have empathy for a man who in many ways is quite contemptible. The casting of Fraser, an actor who is so easy to root for as an underdog, goes a long way towards selling Charlie to an audience. He's a morbidly obese teacher who walked out on his wife and daughter and, upon learning he's going to die, tries to reconnect with said daughter who hates him for abandoning her. Speaking of, Sadie Sink excels as Ellie, bringing a lot of silent rage and seething hatred into her performance. It's a relatable performance. But Fraser stands out as the chameleon, not just because of the fat suit, but because of what's behind the fat suit. Charlie is a broken, self-hating man who has nothing left to lose, and he knows that. He wants to die, but on his own schedule, once he's taken care of everything.
I urge everyone to see The Whale. It's a dialogue-heavy, emotional journey through one man's avalanche of personal mistakes. It's the film that could likely net Brendan Fraser an Oscar next year, and he would absolutely deserve it. At the very least, I hope Fraser was able to use this film to work through some of his own stuff, and I can't wait to see what he does next.