‘The Whale’ Review- Aronofsky’s Show Stolen By Brendan Fraser’s Once-in-a-Lifetime Performance

by Saptarshi Nag

‘The Whale’, the latest offering from the ace director Darren Aronofsky is a gloomy, poignant and moving saga of a reclusive, atrociously overweight teacher’s last days of life. The movie will be forever remembered for Brendon Fraser’s stellar performance. The same Brendan Fraser who was known for the cheap ‘George of the Jungle’, unimaginative ‘Bedazzled’ or the gaudy ‘Mummy’ in our growing years has undoubtedly delivered his career best performance. Without an iota of doubt, this is one of the finest performances in recent years.

The movie is almost entirely shot inside the living room of the protagonist Charlie where his life is recounted through his conversations with his caregiver, estranged family members, an outsider young kid and at times with the food delivery boy. The milieu is gloomy, dark and at times ominous, a signature style of Aronofsky. There is hardly any sunshine shown except in the climax, brilliantly in sync with the bleak life story of Charlie. The story follows a simple and linear pattern , quite a deviation from Aronofsky’s earlier creations like ‘The Requiem for a Dream’, ‘The Fountain’, ‘Black Swan’ or even the less remembered ‘Mother!’. But as always, the master craftsman never fails to give his audience a chance to cerebrate, introspect and believe.

I have been pining for watching ‘The Whale’ since the day I saw the poster of the movie with an extremely obese Brendan Fraser’s photo and the director’s name on it. Even Jim Carrey, the master of comedy has given us underrated yet extremely nuanced performance in ‘The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’. Adam Sandler, the man behind all those cheap, slapstick comedies gave us ‘Punch drunk Love’ or the brilliant ‘Uncut Gems’. Was it now Brendon’s turn to shift his priorities and excel like them? As the movie ended, I had one opinion which I believe most of the readers will agree with. Brendan Fraser embarked on a journey hitherto uncharted by any of the actors of the genre where he belonged and this new version of him has surely given us something deserving a standing ovation. Acting with that much of prosthetics was a monumental challenge. Emoting with that countenance layered with so much of obesity was a herculean task to say the least. But when an actor sacrifices everything in his life in three years just to portray a character perfectly, even the constellations conspire to make the silver screen sizzle with his brilliance. This movie belongs to him. Every scene of the movie belongs to the morbid Charlie, his emotions, his mistakes, his pathos. There are scenes where it is rather difficult to keep your eyes dry as you feel for the misfortunes of Charlie. Other actors do perfect justice to their roles. Hong Chau has bagged an Oscar nomination for her role as Liz, the caregiver friend of Charlie. Sadie Sink as the estranged daughter did a fine job, though she was a bit irritating in a few scenes. Samantha Morton shines as Charlie’s ex-wife. But in the end, it is Brendan Fraser who leaves you awestruck. Budding actors may follow this movie as a manual of perfect acting. Sheer class!

This is not your regular family drama. This is not an escapist tale of a cosmetic world. This is real. This is hard-hitting and this is a movie made with pure heart. Aronofsky even though did not bag any nominations, his work has been a revelation and if ‘Black Swan’ is his best creation till date in my humble opinion and ‘Requiem for a Dream’ is a close second, this can be easily rated third in the list of the unforgettable movies of the illustrious director. His non-manipulative works have never ceased to fascinate me ever since I watched ‘Pi’ in the college days. And my serenade for his works continues. ‘The Whale’ is a must watch. If you believe the name of the movie is just based on the physical appearance of the protagonist, you are wrong. And that is the only twist in the movie. You are seriously missing something if you have not watched ‘The Whale’. Happy watching!

9 out of 10

News Reporter

1 thought on “‘The Whale’ Review- Aronofsky’s Show Stolen By Brendan Fraser’s Once-in-a-Lifetime Performance

    WOW, Take a bow Brendan Fraser. !
    He is phenomenal in this role and hands down an Oscar performance.

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