Friday Film Review | 'The Whale'
After a lengthy absence from the big screen, actor Brendan Fraser returns with an Oscar-nominated performance in "The Whale."
With over a month before the Oscars, there's still time to catch a few of the films and performances among the long list of nominees this year.
One notable Best Actor-nominated performance is by Brendan Fraser. Perhaps best known for his leading role in 1999's "The Mummy", and the subsequent sequels, Fraser returns to the big screen as the lead in director Darren Aronofsky's drama "The Whale."
Fraser plays Charlie, a grief-stricken, 600-pound recluse in the end stages of congenital heart failure. The film takes place over a few days and is set entirely in Charlie's small, dark, and messy apartment.
A random knock on the door while Charlie is having a cardiac episode ushers in a small circle of characters - including a stranger, a caring friend, Charlie's teenage daughter, and his ex-wife - that illustrate the origins of Charlie's story.
The stranger at the door is a religious missionary (played by Ty Simpkins) who believes his purpose is to "save" Charlie. While frantically trying to help Charlie and call 911, Liz, Charlie's longtime friend, walks in.
Unable to leave and struggling to move around his apartment, Charlie relies on Liz (played by Hong Chau) for food and companionship. Liz is also a nurse who has been monitoring Charlie's health and urges him to go to a hospital, which Charlie refuses to go citing a lack of money and insurance.
Sensing the end of his life is near, Charlie reaches out to his estranged daughter Ellie (played by Sadie Sink), hoping to reconcile and reconnect 10 years after divorcing Ellie's mom (played by Samantha Morton).
Ellie is a troubled teen on the brink of not graduating high school unless she turns her grades around. An online college English professor, Charlie sees an opportunity to bond by helping Ellie with her writing assignments.
Over the next few days, Charlie's backstory is revealed through poignant moments, conversations, and some tender and hard-to-watch scenes.
Directed by Aronofsky, best known for helming "The Swan" and "Requiem for a Dream," "The Whale" is based on a 2012 play of the same name written by Samuel D. Hunter, who also wrote the film's screenplay.
"The Whale" is a moving film marked with standout performances by Fraser and Chau, both receiving Oscar nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.
Also worth noting is that Fraser's performance and the film drew a six-minute standing ovation following its premiere screening at the 2022 Venice Film Festival.
Rated R and running 1 hour and 41 minutes, "The Whale" is a film worth watching in the run-up to the Oscars.