#TIFF22: “THE WHALE”
By Mr. Will Wong
Darren Aronofsky‘s THE WHALE is as hefty in heart as its tragic hero, Charlie, played to masterful perfection in a performance of a lifetime by comeback kid Brendan Fraser.
Charlie is an online professor whom after losing his partner, has spiraled into obsessive eating and severe obesity. With just days left to live, he is out to reconcile his relationship with estranged daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink). Ellie harbours deep anger and resentment towards her dad and agrees only to meet him on the condition of a financial incentive and help with her failing grades.
Through the arrival of a stranger at his door in Thomas (Ty Simpkins) and best friend/caretaker Liz (Hong Chau), we get glimpses into Charlie‘s heartbreaking grief, answering questions for us how he has gotten to his present state and why he left behind his wife and daughter. As Charlie’s health continues to deteriorate quickly, he needs to know that he’s done one thing right and that he lived authentically, which seems improbable with everything around and within him crumbling.
Aronofsky once again delivers a compelling, visceral story that tapes right into the core and essence of what our hero truly is. THE WHALE tore us apart and left us in tears. Not enough can be said about Fraser‘s precise performance. Every wheeze, arduous plop on the couch and attempt to get up off the couch, or struggle to reach things, feel all so real. Beneath all that, we feel the race against time and his urgency to make sense of his tortured life. Simply put, Fraser is unforgettable and he helps us reach a deep level of connection with Charlie that helps us see past the “disgusting”.
The Film assembles a sublime Ensemble and we were floored by Sink‘s commanding presence, serving two dashes of cruelty per every bit of pain in Ellie. Academy Award nominee Chau is every bit as important a part of the story, defeated in her attempts to save Charlie but still unconditionally loving of him and protective of him.
THE WHALE changed us and maybe ruined us for any other Films we still have to see at the Festival or the rest of the year. It screens at TIFF ’22 as follows:
Sun, Sep 11 IN-PERSON Royal Alexandra Theatre 5:30pm
Mon, Sep 12 IN-PERSON Scotiabank Theatre Toronto 11:30am