Brendan Fraser deserves an Oscar for The Whale. It also deserves a better movie

Charlie is 600 years old pound. This is the first thing you notice about it. This is the first thing you should notice about it. He says he’s always been a big guy, but “he just let it get out of control”. On Zooms where Charlie teaches online English courses – he’s a professor – his voice is always emitting from a solid black square, the video is permanently off, the word “teacher” is the only visual his students associate with him.

But when we first saw Charlie Whale, We note that director Darren Aronofsky’s adaptation of the 2012 award-winning Samuel D. Hunter play All From it: A big part of a man, his body puffy and swollen, sitting deep in the corner of his couch, masturbating hard to internet porn. Severe chest pains disrupted his endeavors. Only the arrival of a random stranger, who found the apartment door open, saves his life.

This stranger, Thomas (Ty Simpkins), is a fresh-faced, twenty-something evangelist from a local church, the kind who preaches about the end times. He believes God brought him to this apartment for a reason. (If you consider plot convenience a form of providence, then sure.) Soon, Charlie’s closest friend, a nurse named Liz (the great Hong Zhao), arrives to help. She is worried about the child, as she has a previous connection to the church. So, for that matter, does the person sweat and whistle on the couch, who needs a walker to get around. Later, Charlie’s daughter, Ellie (Weird things‘Sadie Sink), a wayward teen, shows up to berate her father. So is his ex-wife, Mary (Samantha Morton). But these personalities are just satellites. They are there to rotate around the shape that is at the center of it all. Or maybe, to be more precise, this centrifugal force is played by the star.

Even if you don’t follow Oscar expectations like the showbiz TV series, you’ve likely heard how great Brendan Fraser is as Charlie. Hype is earned around performance. It is no exaggeration to say that it is better, if not better The The best work of his career, and this kind of screen captures that of your longstanding relationship with an actor while revealing aspects of his talent you never knew existed. You might also know that he’s been through some rough times, and the emotional reaction to his return to premieres, red carpets, etc., on that level was honest. Frasier tends to blow up talk of a comeback, but that’s how it goes Whale It is a gift for him. And there are so many moments when you watch the actor in this part that you want to get behind this plodding, melodramatic, misdirection. Meshgas From his personal study only.

Donning a bulky suit and often bogging down plot points and dialogue that never escapes translating from one stage to the next well (although Hunter has adapted his own work), Frasier manages to communicate the humanity in this character even when the movie itself does everything it can. to undermine his efforts. It is the way he uses his eyes and facial expressions to express grief, fear, self-loathing, self-pity, hope, despair, spiritual longing, a fake sense of fun, and a real sense of joy. The way his eyes move when he can’t reach a key that’s fallen on the floor. An explosion of laughter accompanies the discovery that his sarcastic daughter has turned her dislike into a haiku. Three conflicts occur simultaneously when you watch Whale: Charlie’s half-hearted attempt to cope with his physical condition before losing heart completely; Frasier fights to let this man’s bruised spirit shine through; And you suppress your anger at the film enough to appreciate the fruits of his labor.

Sadie drowns in The Whale

Nico Tavernise / A24

Because there’s a major delicate issue going on here, that the way the actor and the movie itself see Charlie sometimes seems to be completely at odds with each other. You can never accuse Darren Aronofsky of being an unimaginative or risk-averse filmmaker; He is one of those auteurs whose failures are often more interesting than the successes of many other directors. This is an artist who isn’t afraid to teeter on the fences and suffer the occasional blow – say what you will the mother!, it took guts (and some swingy underbelly) to make something conceptually daring. But even early Requiem for a dream (2000), it was felt that any existing sensitivity could be drowned out by a prioritizing approach Storm and rush. The need to impress you, or push you into submission, is sometimes heightened during the procedures. It relied on a solid performance to carry viewers through all that bad blinking.

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Frasier is a collaborator’s dream in that regard, however Whale It seems exhausting in making you view Charlie as hideous. There’s something wild about the way he keeps his frame, how it sounds like he’s nibbling on each roll of his meat and putting the sound of his greasy gnawing on fried chicken high into the sound mix. What this man is experiencing—a terrible sense of shame that has turned to self-destruction—isn’t pretty. But the movie seems to thrash too passionately in its own ugliness. This doomsday score by Rob Simonsen continues to rub despair deeper in your face. For every ray of humanity’s sun Fraser lets that spirit shine through, the film summons half a dozen dark clouds to try to quell them.

It makes you think the sheer achievement of letting the viewer feel something – anything – for this person, in addition to pity, or, even worse, superiority, is a responsibility that seems to fall squarely on the prosthetist’s burdened shoulders. (To be fair, he was helped by Chow, once again turning his supporting role into something substantial and layered, but not outdone.) That said moment borrows heavily from Aronofsky’s climax/coda set mass. But he also deserves a better movie for doing such a great job in it. Whale He knows it has a dynamo at its core, but he’s still trying to prove that it’s a quintessential, important statement. It cannot prevent itself from collapsing under its symbolic and evocative weight.


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