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The Whale Review: Brendan Is Back

Brendan Fraser gives the performance of his career as Charlie in The Whale
Brendan Fraser gives the performance of his career as Charlie in The Whale

The Whale is the kind of movie that I only want to see maybe once in my life. This isn’t because the movie is bad at all, far from it. It’s because the movie is difficult to watch but sticks with you long after the credits begin to roll. It’s a character piece that will break your heart, put it back together, then break it again; it will make you laugh, cry, and feel very uncomfortable. The entire small cast is phenomenal, with Brendan Fraser giving the performance of his career as Charlie, a 600 pound man who wants nothing more than to connect with his teenage daughter Ellie (played by Sadie Sink).

Brendan Fraser as Charlie in The Whale
Brendan Fraser as Charlie in The Whale

The Whale Review

The film introduces us to our protagonist Charlie right away; he is a reclusive college English professor who teaches classes online. He keeps his camera off but tells his students that it’s broken because he’s afraid of how they will react to his weight. He is cared for by his friend/nurse Liz (played by Hong Chau); Liz urges him to go to the hospital because of his severe risk for congestive heart failure. Charlie refuses to go to the hospital and we follow along with him as he interacts with Thomas (played by Ty Simpkins), a New Life missionary, his daughter Ellie, and his ex-wife Mary (played by Samantha Morton).

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Brendan Fraser deserves every bit of praise he’s been receiving for this performance and then some. It’s truly wonderful to see him on the big screen again and he shines brightly in this film. Charlie is a simple but complicated man; he wants what’s best for everybody else except himself. He gives his all in this role, from his incredibly emotional scenes to his uncomfortable eating scenes. He also gives his humor and charm a chance to shine through as well; he is well deserving of an Oscar nomination for Best Actor this year and I hope he gets it.

Sadie Sink as Ellie in The Whale
Sadie Sink as Ellie in The Whale

Two of the supporting cast members are worthy of Best Supporting Actress nominations as well: Sadie Sink and Hong Chau. Sink is most recognized for her work on Stranger Things, but she takes her acting to the next level in this film as Ellie. She holds her own in her father/daughter scenes with Fraser and portrays a high school girl struggling to find herself while dealing with emotions and heartbreak from her past. Chau does a fantastic job as well playing Charlie’s friend and nurse Liz; there’s a true connection there (which I won’t spoil), and she really loves Charlie and wants what’s best for him.

Hong Chau as Liz in The Whale
Hong Chau as Liz in The Whale

Overall, I absolutely recommend watching The Whale if you have the chance when it releases nationwide this week. While it isn’t a feel good holiday movie or a blockbuster sequel like Avatar: The Way of Water, it’s a story that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. As I said at the beginning of this review, I’m not sure if I’ll rewatch The Whale anytime soon, if I watch it again at all. After seeing it, I completely understand the controversies behind the story (as well as the original play the film is based on) reinforcing anti-fat stereotypes. That factored into my rating of the film along with my feelings during and after watching it. Luckily, the awards worthy performances help make up for that, along with good direction by Darren Aronofsky. All I can hope for is that The Whale leads to more lead performances from Brendan Fraser because I truly missed seeing him in theaters; welcome back Brendan!

Rating:

7 Out of 10

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Written by Elliott Wishnefsky

Elliott Wishnefsky is an Entertainment Writer & Critic for FandomWire. He's a graduate of Millersville University with a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education. Elliott is also a content creator for his own brand, Learning at the Movies! Twitter: @Learning_Movies | Facebook/Instagram: @learningatthemovies | TikTok: @learningatthemovies