THE WHALE premiered in December, but I just had the opportunity to see it. It is based on Samuel D. Hunter’s play. He also wrote the screenplay. The entire film takes place in Charlie’s (Brendan Fraser) apartment. The movie feels small, very opposite of his 600-pound character.
The movie itself is not great, but what is outstanding is Brendan’s powerful, mesmerizing performance. He portrays a man haunted by grief and regret. He teaches an English class on Zoom but never dares to show his face, yet he professes truth and authenticity to his students. He let himself go and does not know how to fix his broken relationships. Charlie desperately wants to be seen but lives in fear of being visible. He believes people need to be kind, even though they often are not, especially to him.
Brandon was a consummate actor in THE WHALE. He gave viewers a new perspective on grieving, food addictions, and self-loathing. His looks of pure angst and hatred all mixed together tore at my heartstrings. Brandon’s pausing and breaths allowed the audience to be in the palm of his hand. When he wept, I did too. He inhabited Charlie both physically and mentally. He accepted his flaws and permitted him to let go. It was a brilliant performance. Sheer perfection.
THE WHALE is not for everyone. The pacing is slow and deliberate at times. The story is self-contained. No stunning locations. It is raw and hard to watch, yet difficult to turn away from the desperation of eating for eating’s sake. I can’t stop thinking about it. I am in awe of Brandon’s portrayal of Charlie.
THE WHALE is available at theaters.