Despite Brendan Fraser’s impressive performance, ‘The Whale’ could not be kept afloat


The reverence Brendan Fraser garnered from film festivals has resulted in people having overly ambitious expectations for “The Whale“. The movie, based on a theatrical play taking place in a singular apartment, is too lacklustre to remain afloat due to its minor characters. Fraser deserves praise for his performance, disguised with makeup, but it is not enough. The emphasis on a forlorn, disheartening and self-destructive character has resemblances to Darren Aronofsky’s 2008 feature “The Wrestler”, which also portrays the central figure confronting his own mortality.


Charlie Fraser, a man of immense size who finds it difficult to breathe and requires a walker to get around, is confined to his house. The only interplay he has with the outside world is through the delivery of food and the presence of a compassionate nurse, played by Hong Chau. Among other health issues, Charlie is routinely taken aback when a missionary, Ty Simpkins, unexpectedly arrives at his doorstep during one of his precarious episodes.

Charlie confesses to his daughter (Sadie Sink from “Stranger Things”) that he didn’t go to the hospital, which brings to mind the movie “Leaving Las Vegas”, in which the protagonist refuses to confront his deteriorating wellbeing. Desiring to re-establish the bond with his teenage daughter before it’s too late, he discloses his large size to her and explains how it got that way. Later, he gives details about what led to his weight gain.

Despite her valid grievance, the daughter in ‘The Whale’ – based on Samuel D. Hunter’s play – can be added to the list of uninspired movie teens, who seem to be unable to shift from rage to sorrow. Unfortunately, the film does not effectively communicate the idea of hope and optimism it was striving to demonstrate with its story about a character whose health is waning.

At the Venice Film Festival, the audience gave an extended standing ovation to “The Whale” in spite of its arduous production and Fraser’s departure from his iconic role in “The Mummy”. While the narrative of Charlie’s experience is certainly affecting, the movie does not transcend the divide between theater and cinema. Even though Fraser’s wish for acknowledgment is understandable, it does not merit any awards.

>> Read more:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *