The Whale movie review: Forget the fat suit controversy, Darren Aronofsky’s obesity drama has bigger problems
Most of the conversation about Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale film revolves around Brendan Fraser’s fat suit.
A combination of prosthetics and CGI was used to create the illusion of a 600 lb man in the house, for whom getting up from an armchair is an act of ultimate will.
The results were convincing and there was nothing wrong with Fraser’s performance, a performance that earned him an Academy Award nomination and ascribed to that dreaded word, ‘return’. The bigger question, however, is what all of this means, if anything.
The film is based on a play by Samuel D. Hunter and is presumably intended to create a sense of stage involvement. In a damp and dingy Midwest apartment, Charlie (Fraser) runs online English literature classes for college students; even though he could see them, Charlie turned off the computer’s camera and pretended it was broken. He is ashamed of his appearance and is currently so overweight that he is at risk of congenital heart failure.
His lonely existence is disrupted by the visits of a fast-food courier who delivers the poisons of Charlie’s choosing. He called hello through the door, but Charlie never answered, and waited until he was out of sight before taking the food.
His only real guest is Liz (Hong Chau), a nurse who checks his vitals and gently explains to him his disastrous personal habits; she also brought him the minced burgers he coveted.
The reason for her selfless dedication will gradually become clear, but meanwhile, Charlie’s shrinking universe is invaded by a gentle stranger. Thomas (Ty Simpkins) is a biblical enthusiast, a member of a local Christian denomination. Instead of sending him away, Charlie invites him in and smiles patiently as the young man imposes God’s word on him.
Charlie heard it all because his late boyfriend Alan was also a member of the cult – it was the loss that derailed his life and led him down this unfortunate path.
To be with Alan, Charlie left his wife Mary (Samantha Morton) and their newborn baby Ellie. Now, a vengeful teenager, Ellie (Sadie Sink) also unexpectedly shows up to mess with her father’s head and read him the act of rioting. Like a great Christ, Charlie endured it all because what he longed for was redemption.
Aronofsky’s obsession with body terrors is nothing new: in wrestler, an old boxer uses steroids that could kill him to prolong his sad career; IN black Swana ballet dancer who overcomes excruciating pain to the brink of insanity to land herself a coveted lead role.
But the director’s recent films (Noah, Mom!) had collapsed inwards under the weight of their own conceit: the implicit text uncomfortably obscured the text. Whale Wear its ideas on its sleeves and they lack sophistication.
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While encouraging us to care about Charlie’s predicament, Aronofsky repeatedly made us consider him disgusting. He doesn’t eat, he gobbles, sweats and slaves as he devours whole buckets of fried chicken, putting slices of pizza in his mouth in a way that defies the laws of physics. Then, the director’s camera lingers on those glossy, greased lips, leaving us in awe.
What are we meant to feel is pity – or should we be ashamed of our disgust? Either way, Whale doesn’t manage to elevate Charlie’s plight to the stratosphere of tragedy, and Hunter’s script is heavy, theatrical.
Try to match Charlie with Moby dick are half-hearted and juvenile, and Fraser’s well-reviewed performance is the only thing that occasionally convinces us that Charlie might actually be real.
Chau was also nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of selfless Liz, but was overshadowed by Sink’s terrifying turn as Charlie’s abandoned daughter. And in the film’s best scene, his ex-wife, Mary, also visits, and Morton compresses the pain of a lifetime into a brief and brilliant monologue.
Rating: Three stars
Knock At The Cabin (16, 117 minutes)
Outside a lakeside cottage, a little girl was sitting among spring flowers when a very large man approached.
Leonard (Dave Bautista) is full and intimidating, but speaks softly and expresses sincere regret for what is about to happen.
Afterwards, Leonard and three associates surrounded the house and locked the occupants inside. The little girl is Wen (Kristen Cui), the adopted child of Andrew and Eric (Ben Aldridge, Jonathan Groff), who listens with growing horror as Leonard outlines his strange proposition: the apocalypse is coming and humanity can only be saved if one of the families agrees to sacrifice himself. Are these people crazy or maybe they are telling the truth?
This is the premise for M. Night Shyamalan’s latest production, and the director is skilled at creating a largely static film. Although we and they initially believed that Leonard and Co were fruit bats, news bulletins suggested that there might be some truth to their claims. To keep us neutral, Shyamalan avoids depictions of violence and Bautista excels as a holy family invader.
Rating: Three stars
Saint Omer (12A, 122 minutes)
Courtroom dramas have become synonymous with flamboyant and flamboyant acting, but all of that is reversed in Alice Diop. Saint Omea quiet yet devastating film based on a true story.
Writer Parisienne Rama (Kayije Kagame) arrives in Saint-Omer in Pas-de-Calais to observe the trial of Laurence Coly (Guslagie Malanda), a woman accused of drowning her infant daughter in the water. a nearby beach.
Both women are of Senegalese descent, and Rama, who is pregnant, watches in amazement as Laurence calmly describes her actions, which she apparently perceives as witchcraft.
The majesty of the French legal system is impressive, but as we observe, the distinction between black and white impressions of what is going on becomes clear. Laurence’s relationship with an elderly white man suggests a kind of exploitation, and as Saint Ome progressive, Laurence emerged as a latter-day Medea. Or her?
Diop’s film isn’t really about deciding whether to be guilty or not, but rather about exploring the power of language and the illusory nature of perception.
Rating: Five stars
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