Director: Darren Aronofski | Script: Samuel D Hunter | Cast: Brendan Fraser (Charlie), Sadie Sink (Ellie), Ty Simpkins (Thomas), Hong Chau (Liz), Samantha Morton (Mary), ea | Time to play: 117 minutes | Year: 2022
Brendan Fraser’s career has taken a strange turn. He was once a celebrated Hollywood star who scored with blockbusters like George of the jungle in The Mummy and his popularity knew no bounds. Then came the draft, including Fraser’s declining health and a Hollywood boss whom he accused of sexual misconduct. The whale by Darren Aronofsky is considered his return. And what return.
Still, Aronofsky and Fraser, whose character Charlie weighs nearly 700 pounds, drew criticism. The film adaptation of a Samuel D. Hunter play was seen as an embarrassment. It remains to be seen, however, whether critics saw a single shot of the film before passing judgment. Although Fraser underwent a major metamorphosis and wore a suit that was quite a physical challenge, it gives his character so much humanity and emotion that it can’t be called an effect.
Charlie is an online literature professor with a great love for Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, to which the title refers. His students don’t know what he looks like because Charlie is ashamed of his physical appearance. He attributes the fact that he can’t show his appearance to a technical defect. The teacher leads a withdrawn life, in which he only receives a visit from a nurse friend who is very concerned about his health.
Years ago, before his food addiction began, Charlie’s life looked completely different. He had a girlfriend with whom he had a son. When his daughter Ellie returns after eight years, Charlie’s life is turned upside down. In exchange for a large sum of money, he forces contact with his daughter in the hope that she will get to know and understand his father better.
It’s all too easy to attribute Fraser’s performance to his prosthetics. There have been other actors, like Jared Leto, Matt Damon, and Christian Bale, who have gone up and down a lot of weight to make their roles more impressive, but what Fraser shows here is unprecedented. Beneath all the layers of makeup and foam rubber is a layered complex person, with even more complex emotions.
Although Charlie’s size is impressive, it would have been just a gimmick if Fraser hadn’t delved so deeply into his character’s emotional world. The staging fits very well with Aronofsky’s direction, which is extremely austere and sometimes even claustrophobic in terms of visuals, and which not only fits Charlie’s very limited mobility. Except for a few flashbacks, the entire film takes place in a single room. The arrival of supporting characters such as a young missionary and a pizza delivery man once again underscore how exceptional Charlie’s situation is.
Morbid obesity is too often a source of ridicule, prejudice, disgust and misunderstanding. The whale excellently to let the understanding sink in that each physical and/or mental condition has a background and a story. Plus, it has a heartfelt tone and emotion, so there’s a good chance you’ll need to carry a pack of tissues with you. The whale It also makes it clear that Fraser is a gifted actor who can do more than he has been awarded in previous roles.