Brendan Fraser was one of the most popular celebrities of 2022. Not only was he making a comeback performance in the film ‘The Whale’, but videos went viral of Fraser getting standing ovations after the film’s premiere. Though Fraser gives a tour-de-force performance, ‘The Whale’ has more to offer than just that.
‘The Whale’ is directed by Darren Aronofsky and produced by A24. It has been nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Actor in a Leading Role. It follows a 400-pound man who attempts to reconnect with his daughter. A24 is a studio known for its creative risks and abstract storytelling. With the A24 label, one would expect the film to not pertain to a broad audience, but the film surprisingly immerses viewers through its empathetic storytelling and authentic performances.
Let us get this out of the way: Brendan Fraser gives the performance of his career in this role. The role has garnered Fraser several awards, including the Critic’s Choice Award for Leading Actor. Playing a character of his size asks the actor to do a lot physically. For example, he has to show difficulty in walking and display a struggle in reaching an everyday object. From his movement to his facial expressions, Fraser must be perfect to sell the role, and he is. His character and his personality are empathetic due to his positive perception of humans and the kindness he projects onto the people around him; Fraser portrays this character seamlessly. Despite how poorly people treat him, he continues to compliment others and express how good they are.
Fraser is not the only star of the show. His daughter, played by ‘Stranger Things’ breakout Sadie Sink, plays a pivotal role in the film by being Fraser’s central conflict. Sink’s character is despicable, arrogant, and narcissistic. Fraser’s challenge is to form a connection with her daughter before it is too late, but Sink makes it difficult for him. Although Sink performs her role exceptionally, it is hard to side with her character. Her treatment towards her father makes the film difficult to watch. As it is easy to get attached to the characters, your heart breaks for them.
The movie’s screenwriting is incredible. The film takes place in one small apartment building, giving the filmmakers little room to experiment on a visual level. Instead, the film is dialogue centric, giving the film a play-like feature. Each character has positive and negative qualities, making them more interesting and human. By the end of the film, the characters go through a change that makes them better people. Fraser’s arch is especially satisfying since he learns from his mistakes and attempts to right his wrongs. There are numerous monologues where the characters explain their perspective to the other characters, giving the actors lots of opportunities to show off their talents. The dialogue feels authentic, which gives the scenes an emotional impact.
‘The Whale’ is an exceptional feature. Not only did it revive the career of Brendan Fraser, but it tells a remarkable story of regret, depression, and love. Sitting with these characters for two hours is a treat for the senses and is predestined to impact the viewer. The film is worth the hype.
Trevor Stucker (he/him) is a freshman majoring in Applied Film and Journalism. This is his first year writing for The Campus Citizen.