“The Whale” broke my heart

One of the most anticipated movies of 2022 has been in theaters for two months and has stirred up even more conversation since its release. The film has brought lead actor Brendan Fraser into the public eye as he’s become one of the most beloved actors working today in the midst of what has been titled the “Brenaissance.”

“The Whale,” released on Dec. 9, is based on the dark comedy-drama play by Samuel D. Hunter and tells the story of a dying obese man. Charlie, played by Fraser, faces challenges from the few remaining people in his life as he tries to rekindle a relationship with his daughter who he hasn’t seen in eight years.

I was a little worried walking into this film as I was unsure of the quality of pacing for such a depressing subject along with how they would handle the aspect of food. I’m not one who enjoys films that make characters look pathetic. Thankfully, at just shy of two hours long, it actually goes by pretty briskly. It didn’t overstay its welcome and gave just enough of a snapshot into the character’s lifestyle without looking down on him.

The figurative and literal elephant in the room is Fraser’s character, Charlie. I’m not breaking any ground when I say that he is fantastic in this film. Fraser had to wear a fat suit that weighed 300 pounds to portray the 600-pound character, and you can see it in the character’s natural struggle to live his life. This is without a doubt the best performance he’s ever given, I’ll be wholeheartedly satisfied if Fraser wins the Oscar.

The film does a brilliant job of making the audience member see through Charlie’s perspective. The perfect example of this is what he thinks of his daughter, Ellie, played by Sadie Sink. She says and does some awful things to not only Charlie, but just about everyone we see her come into contact with in the film. However, Charlie sees the great attributes of her and swears to them, going against the characters who try to convince him otherwise. In his insistence on Ellie being an amazing person deep down, you as an audience member believe it too and see those attributes subtly appear.

Unfortunately, as a film that’s so depressing and at times grim, it does lack rewatch value. Not that every movie needs to be rewatchable—many films flourish and uphold their impact by being a one-and-done watch for many people. Nevertheless, there are things in this film that I would very much enjoy revisiting once in a while, and some things I really don’t need to re-experience any time soon. This is no fault of its execution, it’s just a tough story to swallow at certain moments.

I had a memorable experience watching this film in the cinema with my father as it’s an impactful movie that one probably won’t revisit often but it’ll never truly leave your conscience and it will change your worldview in certain respects. I rate it a 4 / 5.