The Whale

Verdict: Brendan Fraser undergoes a remarkable transformation and produces an incredibly raw performance in this serious drama

  • Brendan Fraser, Samantha Morton, Sadie Sink
  • February 3rd 2023
  • Darren Aronofsky

Brendan Fraser stars as a morbidly obese English teacher who tries to reconnect with his daughter in Darren Aronofsky’s drama.

Brendan Fraser makes his big movie comeback with his Oscar-nominated performance in Darren Aronofsky’s drama The Whale.

The Whale, based on Samuel D. Hunter’s play of the same name, tells the story of Charlie (Fraser), a severely obese and reclusive English teacher who punishes himself for past regrets by binge-eating food.

The only company Charlie has are his students, who don’t see him as he turns off his webcam, and his friend Liz (Hong Chau), a nurse who strongly advises him to visit a hospital.

However, one day, his estranged teenage daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink) shows up unannounced and has a lot of resentments to get off her chest.

Despite her attitude, Charlie sees her visit as his last opportunity to reconnect and make things right with her.

Fraser achieved awards buzz as soon as The Whale premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September and that has translated into an Oscar and BAFTA nomination and a Critics Choice Award.

The plaudits are well deserved as Charlie is a remarkable transformation for the man best known for The Mummy and George of the Jungle!

Charlie is a deeply depressed man and Fraser produces an incredibly raw, emotional performance that will move many people.

However, he does wear a full prosthetic fatsuit and some audience members might take issue with that.

Thankfully, Charlie’s size is never played for laughs and Aronofsky never shames him for his appearance.

There were a couple of moments when it felt like the story was about to make fun of his weight but it didn’t and his size is ultimately handled with sensitivity.

The film is mostly dark and serious, as it deals with what happened to Charlie to make him this way, but there are moments of humour in the script that make it feel lighter at times.

The story is solely set in Charlie’s apartment but it’s never boring because he has really interesting conversations with the stroppy Ellie, the caring Liz, Ellie’s angry mum (Samantha Morton), and a visiting religious missionary named Thomas (Ty Simpkins).

Chau received an Oscar nomination for playing the straight-talking Liz and rightly so – she’s the audience’s eyes into Charlie’s situation and it upsets her to see him harming himself.

The film is never as good as its outstanding performances and it was a struggle to connect with it on an emotional level. However, it is still worth a watch to see what Fraser is truly capable of.

In cinemas from Friday 3rd February.

© Cover Media