Hollywood is a machine that devours and spits. The stars disappear as soon as they arrive and there is no mercy with them. From top of the world to B-series byproducts there is only one bad decision. It’s an industry that, until recently, has always looked the other way when it was bullied. There Weinstein was abusing for years while jokes were made on TV series and everyone laughed knowing what was happening without doing anything.
Brendan Fraser was one of those broken Hollywood toys. The actor was one of the most successful actors during the 90s thanks, mainly, to the trilogy of The Mummy and papers like George of the Jungle. He was tall, handsome and strong. The physique that Hollywood wanted. After injuring himself for not using extras and saying yes to each role for fear of his body disappearing, he said enough. After countless injuries and accidents, he decided to take his career more calmly, but the industry did not allow it.
It was difficult for him to return to activity, and when it seemed that he was succeeding, he suffered sexual abuse by a journalist. The actor told it in 2018, after the arrival of Me Too and explained the trauma he suffered and how this caused him to withdraw from acting again. Hollywood owed him an apology, and he has arrived in the form of one of those roles that an actor dreams of all his life, that of Charlie, the protagonist of The Whalethe new film by Darren Aronofsky presented at the Venice Film Festival.
The adaptation of the play by David S. Hunter tells the story of a morbidly obese man isolated at home, with mobility problems and with little desire to live. His encounters with his daughter whom he abandoned, with his caregiver and other characters are the center of a moving, rough, sometimes uncomfortable and ultimately humanistic film. A film that, within its sordidness, hides a hymn to kindness at a time when cynicism, individualism and fundamentalism prevail. The title itself ironically plays with the size of the character and the constant reference to Moby-Dick throughout the footage.
Darren Aronofsky has achieved one of his best films, and he does it commanded by the colossal performance of Brendan Fraser, who manages not to hide and disappear inside the kilos and kilos (130 exactly) of prostheses and move with a look, with his deep voice. . It is a performance to the limit, physically and psychologically, which will make him collect all the awards of the season and will make him, from now on, the favorite for the Volpi Cup for Best Actor and for the Oscar in the next edition.
But it would be unfair if The Whale It will remain in the box of ‘films with great performances’, because there is a lot of cinema in this film that manages to avoid another of its main risks, the theatrical heritage of the source material. The film decides never to leave the protagonist’s house, and we even see the characters approach through the windows of the apartment knowing that someone is going to knock on the door a few seconds later. However, Aronofsky builds this psychological drama about redemption and the need to love as if it were a thriller. Tensing the rope little by little, without resorting to sentimental excesses and reaching a devastating climax. A film that begins unsettled, until one understands that a story prevails inside about how human beings are incapable of not taking care of themselves.
There is not just one story of forgiveness in The Whale, To understand its magnitude, one must be attentive to everything that surrounds and defines it. Religion as a form of oppression, homophobia in a republican city in the USA, the problem with food consumption, the importance of the physical… what happens outside that apartment, and that from time to time enters, is a criticism of the current society and how it takes people like Charles to the limit, to not wanting to continue.
It would also be ungrateful to mention only the interpretive work of Brendan Fraser. Although it will surely end up covering the rest in the prizes, there is The Whale a perfect cast with characters that complete the protagonist. There’s Sadie Sink, the girl in fashion by stranger things as his daughter, but especially Hong Chau as his nurse. The scenes between the two are touching and sweet without being cloying, and they both have a rare chemistry that makes their moments together unique.
A film that has taken ten years to shoot, as the director told the press conference. Not because of lack of budget, but because he couldn’t find the perfect actor. It was when he saw Brendan Fraser in a low-budget Brazilian movie that the lightbulb went off and he realized it was him. After a meal together he had no doubts. He had his Charles, whom Fraser has defined as the most complex character in his career, but also as “the most heroic” he has ever played, “because his superpower is seeing the good in others” . The challenge is more than met, and no doubt he will receive his reward in the form of awards and nominations in a race that has just kicked off.