The Whale review: Could it be Brendan Fraser’s comeback?
The Whale, a gloomy chamber drama at the Venice Film Festival, these physical struggles portrayed on the bodies of addicts, dancers, and pregnant women can be seen on the body of an injured whale.
A morbidly obese man, Charlie, argues with himself as his heart fails and his mind reasons the regretful events in an adaptation of a Samuel Hunter’s 2012 play, The Whale.
The movie is limited to one room which leaves less space for the director’s usual style. Therefore the intense energy of the movie is focused into The Whale’s, and the prosthetic body of Charlie.
The Whale tries to explore the idea that becoming and all its act of change can also be an act of empathy. But what is expressed is not only a feeling of horror as a man goes down in flames but understanding and opportunity for empathy, to see a worthy human being, who was once frightened.
The intention was there, it just wasn’t executed well. It feels like Aronofsky and Fraser wanted to express empathy through the film, but their turgid and ghastly version, The Whale doesn’t achieve that goal.
Charlie lives alone, in an apartment somewhere in Idaho. He teaches writing classes online but only with the camera turned off to protect himself from his students.
Charlie has at least one caring friend in his life, Liz. Liz tends to Charlie’s failing health and is there for him when all of his friends abandon him.
Thomas an Evangelical missionary makes a dramatic entry in Charlie’s world. After pleasing himself, he ends up with a chest pain.
Thomas sees Charlie drowning and realizes that he could not save him. He tries anyways, but Charlie just felt like he gave up on life.
Charlie is estranged from his daughter, Ellie. Between the divorce and his affair, the relationship has strained since he walked out on his family to pursue a great love affair with a male student.
As his worst tragedy, Alan is now dead. Though this has happened in the past, it becomes defining to Charlie now as he tries to obtain a new relationship with Ellie. As he is close to the end of his life, Charlie offers to set up Ellie financially to assure that she has stability.
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The director Aronofsky and the playwright Hunter are unable to create cinematic turns in the movie, because they insist on using tricks that work well on stage, but are long and drawn out.
The opening segments of The Whale are believable, however it quickly escalates, and people are just loudly announcing their thoughts and feelings to one another.
The intense score and graphics make it seem as if The Whale is making fun of other films that take themselves too seriously.
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You are rooting for Fraser to succeed. There are many examples where he has been likable, but it is hard for him to deliver a quality performance in this movie.
When we believe in Fraser’s character, it is usually because he has acted opposite Chau’s role which is the solitary carefully calibrated thing in The Whale.
The Whale is meant to be an idea-driven movie with a study of guilt, sexuality, religion, and remorse. The three main characters are more avatars of ideas than true characters.
Behind The Whale’s pain, a coldness sneaks through. We see an observer who watches from a distance as Charlie cries, pleading them to sigh before they move on.
The Whale’s Brendan Fraser
Brendan James Fraser is an American-Canadian actor known for his roles in The Mummy trilogy, Airheads, George of the Jungle, Monkeybone, and others. Fraser has ventured into dramatic cinema by acting in School Ties, The Passion of Darkly Noon, With Honors, Gods and Monsters, Mrs. Winterbourne, Gimme Shelter and Crash with success in these genres. In addition to film acting Fraser has enjoyed a successful TV career including on Showtime drama series The Affair and FX anthology series Trust playing significant roles on both shows.
The Whale’s Darren Aronofsky
Darren Aronofsky is a filmmaker whose films are often noted for their surrealistic and disturbing elements. These are often in the form of psychological drama.
Aronofsky went to Harvard University where he studied Film And Social Anthropology, American Film Institute where he studied directing, post completion of his senior thesis film. He was able to win awards from the film which became a finalist for National Student Academy Award. Aronofsky also founded a company Protozoa Pictures where he has been successful as a producer.
The first movie which Aronofsky created was Pi, and within a short time of being published it earned him two awards: the Directing Award at Sundance, as well as Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.
Selby’s psychological drama Requiem for a Dream was directed by Aronofsky and based on a novel of the same name; it also got strong reviews from viewers.
Aronofsky created the horror film, Below, which received pretty mixed reviews but did well in terms of box-office sales. His next movie, The Fountain was a love story with strong romantic sensibilities and a sci-fi setting that received very mixed reviews. However, it has managed to find a cult following.
Darren Aronofsky has been nominated for five Oscars and won one, with both of his films getting critical acclaim. He is known for the sports drama The Wrestler (2008) which stars Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei, as well as the psychological horror film Black Swan (2010) starring Natalie Portman.
His sixth film, Noah, was the first to open at No. 1 despite mixed reviews from critics and audiences.