THE WHALE Review: A Quiet & Reflective Return For Brendan Fraser
There has been a lot of buzz around Brendan Fraser's triumphant return on screen in Darren Aronofsky's The Whale lately and his chances to be nominated at the Oscars. I was really happy to see him back last year in Steven Soderbergh's No Sudden Move and he was also recently cast in Martin Scorsese's next film Killers Of The Flower Moon, so his career has been on the rise. The reason that the internet is so happy to see Brendan Fraser back is because he had a rough patch in the past two decades and that ties in perfectly into his comeback with The Whale.
Synopsis: "A reclusive, morbidly obese English teacher attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter."
I ended up liking The Whale a lot more than I thought I would thanks to the inspired writing and the quiet reflective nature of the film, Brendan Fraser deserves all the praise he's been receiving because he poured his heart and soul in every scene. It's a different film for Darren Aronofsky (Requiem For A Dream, Black Swan) that goes into a more traditional structure but happens to be his most mature to date. It's an intimate drama that allows Brendan Fraser to show his skills as an actor and it's exciting to see him thrive under this direction.
What I loved about it is how the film asks everyone to look at themselves in the mirror and it makes us think about our own self-destructive behavior. It's pushed to the extreme with this story about a man struggling with morbid obesity and trying to reconnect with his family, but we all have our own demons that we struggle with and that we need to face. Even though the film is quite sad and heavy at times, I left out of the theater with a feeling of hope and I was fulfilled emotionally. Brendan Fraser carries a lot on his shoulders but he's not alone on screen with Hong Chau and Sadie Sink delivering solid performances on their own even though both characters are designed to be unlikeable.
The movie is based on a play so it obviously feels theatrical in terms of staging, it's mostly set in one location with a few characters showing up but I think that allowed the actors to shine and bring their own personality on screen. It might feel mean-spirited at times but it's all about character growth and everyone in the film is being challenged into learning more about themselves. I can't exactly recommend this to everyone but after releasing my list of favorite films of the year I might need to edit it because it would definitely end up there.
Initial Score: 8.5/10
The Whale is now playing in theaters nationwide.