Brendan Fraser in the strong Darren Aronofsky TV series – The Hollywood Reporter

Human suffering, both physical and emotional, is an important element of Darren Aronofsky, but Whale, spurred on by Brendan Fraser’s breakdown as a 600lb teacher who eats himself to death, pushes that theme to the extreme while remaining steadfast within the borders of naturalism. Adapted from his play by Samuel D. Hunter, the intense chamber drama never fakes its theatrical origins but transcends them with the grace and compassion of text and layers of pain and despair, steadfast love and hope are portrayed again in the central performance. Fraser makes us more aware of this broken man’s alarmingly heart-fluttering appearance.

The play premiered in New York in 2012, and since then, Hunter has gone on to be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (a.k.a. “Genius” Grant) and serves as a writer and producer on the series. FX’s favorite comedy-drama Baskets. He has built a body of theatrical work – set primarily in his home state of Idaho – which questions questions of uncanny identity, spirituality, solitude, existential sadness and The collective loss of vanishing communities is examined by empathy through and through expertly unearthing what is persecuted. His skills in illuminating ordinary life have made him one of the most valued voices to emerge in the American playwright scene over the past decade or so.


Key point

There will be tears.

With a unique setting with no atmosphere and the main character having a serious health crisis that makes the ticking clock of his life clear from the start, Whale Seems like a tough prospect for screen switching. Aronofsky succeeds not by artificially opening up the work but by focusing on its theatrical nature, which immerses us in the suffocating fear that has become inevitable for the character. by Fraser, Charlie. The scene structure of a focal character is limited to a few rooms while supporting characters come and go, sometimes overlapping, still very much like a play.

Shooting at the cozy 1.33 aspect ratio seems to have wowed us even more, and the lack of light coming in from outside Charlie’s apartment is probably a pretty heavy one in terms of symbolism. But DP Matthew Libatique’s responsive camera and Andrew Weisblum’s dynamic editing bring surprising movement to a still situation. An important questionable choice is the fact that Rob Simonsen overestimated Rob Simonsen’s emotional score, rather than trusting the actors to do the job.

Aronofsky and Hunter startle audiences from the start, not only by revealing Charlie’s severe obesity – Fraser wears fully digital prostheses designed by Adrien Morot – but also by revealing This mountain of a man is still capable of sexual desire. Charlie turned off the camera during an online writing course he taught, claiming that the webcam on his laptop was broken. But its video component works well as moments later he watches gay porn and masturbates wildly.

He is interrupted by a knock on the door from Thomas (Ty Simpkins), a seemingly worldless young missionary from New Life church, which preaches Christ’s acceptance as a gateway to the End Ages. Towards a better world. The clumsy intrusion leaves Charlie struggling to breathe. Convinced that he was dying – an event he had apparently been practicing for months – he begged the panicked Thomas to read him a student essay about Melville Moby DickThis gives him comfort for reasons that will become apparent later.

Charlie’s crisis is averted thanks to the arrival of his healthcare worker friend Liz (Hong Chau, amazing), who is used to dealing with his emergencies. She told him he had congestive heart failure and sky-high blood pressure which meant he would probably die within a week. Annoyed by his repeated refusal to go to the hospital, ostensibly due to his lack of health insurance, Liz often loses patience and angers Charlie. But her love for him is so much that she reluctantly becomes addicted to his fast food, bringing him buckets of fried chicken and meatballs.

Grief is the illness that binds Charlie and the sly Liz, which also causes her to become aggressive towards the persistent present Thomas. Her adoptive father was a senior board member at New Life, and she blamed her brother Alan’s death on the church. Alan is a former student of Charlie’s who became the love of his life but was never able to overcome his father’s condemnation, developing a chronic eating disorder that eventually killed him. .

The neat symmetry between a starving partner and a self-destructive partner that occurs due to gluttony is a little diagram, like Moby Dick element is a flourishing literature showing the writer’s hand. But Hunter’s script and the closeness of the actors’ work keep the melancholy film grounded and believable.

In addition to grieving for his part in Alan’s death, Charlie also harbors guilt for abandoning his daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink) a decade ago at the age of 8, when he left his wife Mary (Samantha). Morton) to be with Alan. Mary gains full custody and prevents Charlie from seeing their daughter, but he contacts her, eager to get to know her whatever time he has left. Ellie is an angry asshole in danger of dropping out of high school, and her hostility towards her father manifests itself in disgust and cruelty. But when he bought her time by offering to help her with her essay and promising to leave her all the money he had, Ellie kept coming back.

The teen’s dramatic confrontations with her gentle giant father are compounded by her squishy exchanges with Thomas, whom she manipulates the same way she does Charlie and her tough mother. Sink (a Strange things common) does not retain in a description the characterization that justifies Mary’s description of her as “evil”. But the love that remains beneath both women’s outbursts and vulnerability is slowly revealed in some truly moving moments, especially as Charlie reminisces with Mary about the trip. family to Oregon when he was less heavy, the last time he went swimming.

Every member of the small group makes an impression, even Sathya Sridharan is barely seen as a friendly pizza delivery guy who never fails to inquire about Charlie’s welfare from behind closed apartment doors. private.

Standout, along with Fraser, is Chau, after her sly comedy in Kelly Reichardt’s Show Up with a change of color as a woman is flung aside in loss and prepares for another devastating blow of it. In both cases, her inability to intervene left her helpless, outraged, exhausted, and in pain. There’s also humor in Liz’s annoyance with Charlie’s innate positivity, which will endure no matter how dire his circumstances get. In a movie about the human instinct to care for others, Chau breaks your heart.

Hero performance in Whale that should prevail, however, is Fraser, who hasn’t been this good since Gods and Monsters. A brilliant actor who hasn’t been observed for too long, he uses his puppy-sized eyes to adorable effect, never letting us forget that there is a man scarred by raw emotional lacerations beneath wheezing, sweaty flesh.

His physicality, the strain to navigate awkward spaces and maneuver a body that requires more strength than Charlie’s the other, is heartbreaking to witness, as are the coughing, choking coughs. , his gasp. During a few struggles to stand to his full height, he filled the frame, an extremely sickly figure as his size was less than his suffering. But in a movie about redemption, it’s the indistinguishable humanity in Fraser’s performance that’s what makes you wonder.

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