Film Review – The Whale (2022)

Title – The Whale (2022) 

Director – Darren Aronofsky (Noah

Cast – Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, Ty Simpkins, Hong Chau

Plot – Morbidly obese online English teacher Charlie (Fraser) comes face to face with his mortality and life, trying desperately to reconnect with his estranged daughter Ellie (Sink) before it’s too late. 

“Who would want me to be part of their life?”

Review by Eddie on 15/03/2023

There’s no escaping the fact that Darren Aronofsky’s latest heavy-hitting drama is dominated by its incredible career defining performance from comeback extraordinaire Brendan Fraser. 

A performance that netted this intense character driven drama one of its two Oscar wins (the other for its hair and make-up work), Fraser has risen from the ashes of a seemingly dormant career to deliver a performance for the ages as the often entirely unlikable, morbidly obese and depressed online English teacher Charlie, giving The Whale a central figure that can’t be denied as we spend close to two hours in Charlie’s small residence as his life ever so surely races towards an early demise due to Charlie’s unhealthy lifestyle and mental state. 

Disappearing into his role in more ways than one, Fraser is detestable, heartbreaking and gripping across the entire runtime of the film, from the moment we catch him in an awkward introduction through to a finale that is not soon to be forgotten, its a tour de force performance and a large reason as to why The Whale has managed to resonate so powerfully with audiences, despite the fact many critics were less than impressed with Aronofsky’s efforts outside of his leading mans work. 

It’s hard to imagine that the same performer we are witnessing here is the shirtless buffoon from George of the Jungle, the Indiana Jones like Rick from The Mummy or the airhead from Airheads but there’s little doubt that Fraser is undeniable here and by the time our journey with Charlie is finished and the credits begin to roll, it’s Fraser’s masterful and moving turn that will ensure The Whale lingers long in your memory. 

Outside of Fraser’s commanding turn, Aronofsky also finds able support from Hong Chau as Charlie’s only real friend Liz (with it nice to see Chau recovering from the horrible misfire that was Downsizing) and Ty Simpkins as the trying to do good religious messenger Thomas with the only real blemish in the acting stakes coming from Stranger Things star Sadie Sink as Charlie’s estranged daughter Ellie, with Sink allowed to too often veer into overacting territory while everyone else around her appears to be on an entirely different plane of performing. 

Mostly expertly adapted for this big screen vehicle by The Whale’s original playwright Samuel D. Hunter, nicely lensed by D.O.P Matthew Libatique and movingly scored by rising composer Rob Simonsen, The Whale could be accused of emotional manipulation and overplaying of certain aspects of its plotline but for viewers able to put their cynicism or dislike for Charlie aside, many will find an emotionally powerful feature laid out in front of them that reminds us all that there’s much in this life to be thankful for and that humans are in most instances incapable of not caring. 

Final Say – 

The Whale is most definitely the Brendan Fraser show with the actor delivering a stunning comeback performance but outside of that Darren Aronofsky’s film is also a moving and heartfelt examination of the human condition that is sure to move many who watch it. 

4 1/2 pizza delivery guys out of 5  

6 responses to “Film Review – The Whale (2022)

  1. This is my film of the last 12 months. Fraser is superb and his heartbreaking final lines are heartbreaking. I don’t think that he was that unlikable. His obesity sprung from utter grief and desolation. Some have said that an obese actor should have played the main role. Really! The word is in ‘actor’. Hats off to the supporting cast also who make Jamie Lee Curtis look like an amateur. I would give it 5/5 as I couldn’t fault it.

    • I enjoyed it very much! I think Charlie made some unlikable decisions and also didn’t help himself in so many ways but Fraser was just astounding. It was a very moving film, the final act is not one I will soon forget.

  2. I so thrilled Brendan Fraser won Best Actor. I saw this at the Rivoli about a month ago. It was brilliant on the big screen but it still felt intimate (if you know what I mean).

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