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The Whale

The Whale (2023)

I hate to compare films to Till....but why was Till a 98% film and this a 67%. And then I looked at what it was knocked for and well...I'm ticked off. This is 100% a 90% film it's a two hour devastating performance piece by Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, and Hong Chau. A man at the end of his life tries to reconnect with his daughter that he abandoned. The film only has about five characters and we basically never leave this one apartment where this dying man is living.

The things that this film got knocked for are just absurd. The major criticisms of the film is that it's not sensitive enough and that's it's fat-phobic. I don't know what "fatphobic" is but obesity is a disease and it's something to be afraid of. Frankly the entire point of the film is to see how we got to this place where this character is ready to die. His story unfolds over time and we get these portrayals of flawed figures. Humanity isn't exploitative and showing people who are complicated and self destructive isn't a bad thing. The point of art is to show up what life is not just what we hope it should be.

Fraser's delusions and disconnect from reality is the thing that really grounds the film. His desperation and sadness translates not just to the main issue (his death) but also his relationships with the people in his life. Sadie Sink's portrayal of his daughter is utterly fantastic a 17 year old who is basically a monster. The effects of a young woman raised in an atmosphere of trauma. Chau is also good in this as Charlies last friend who is both the woman trying to keep him alive but also the person bringing him food. At the end of the film we're left wondering where these two characters are going to end up going as they demonstrated two sides of a coin for Charlie.

For me this is one of Darren's better films reminiscent of The Wrestler or Requiem for a Dream and likely the film that should win Fraser the Oscar.