The Whale follows the story of a reclusive and morbidly obese English teacher who attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughter in his final days. Darren Aronofsky and Brendan Fraser team up for this incredibly tragic and emotional story. Let’s consider the pros and cons of The Whale…
Pros: Firstly, Brendan Fraser delivers an all-time performance as Charlie the English teacher. Sadie Sink also holds her own as Charlie’s daughter who he has not seen in years. Their interactions are turbulent, but both performances are phenomenal and show how difficult it can be for estranged family members to reconnect. Secondly, is Aronofsky’s direction which always has his uniquely disturbing signature. Aronofsky makes this contained story extremely captivating by digging into each character’s core vulnerability. Lastly, the pacing allows for moments of breath between emotional moments, but it never feels overdone or drawn out. The entire movie flows well and the emotional payoff by the climax makes it all worth it.
Cons: Although the performances and direction are great, the realness and raw nature of Charlie’s condition leads to some uncomfortable situations. Aaronofsky is extremely talented at showing the unique struggles and hardships of his characters, so this isn’t new territory for him. Your opinion of this movie may hinge on whether you enjoy Aronofsky’s direction, but I’d still recommend checking it out. Secondly, The Whale essay Charlie’s daughter writes is a pretty heavy handed metaphor, but I think it helps the story stay connected and cohesive. Lastly, the entirety of this movie takes place in Charlie’s apartment. It’s a hard thing to pull off, but it’s done with purpose and shows us exactly how difficult living with severe obesity can be.
I give The Whale a solid A. It’s a heart wrenching movie, but it’s put together beautifully and has one hell of a performance from Brendan Fraser. It sends an important message about earning redemption through determination and will, and I think you will enjoy it. Happy watching!
Where to Watch
- Amazon to rent/buy
“It’s a really good essay.”