THE WHALE (15, 117 minutes)
Drama. Brendan Fraser, Hong Chau, Sadie Sink, Ty Simpkins, Samantha Morton. Director: Darren Aronofsky.
Launched: February 3
WHILE novelty T-shirts would possibly proclaim that ‘Fats Individuals Are More durable To Kidnap’, Brendan Fraser’s morbidly overweight Charlie Sarsfield is already a prisoner of his personal making in The Whale, Darren Aronofsky’s movie adaptation of Samuel D Hunter’s award-winning stage manufacturing.
Once we first meet this unhappy eyed 40-stone shut-in, he is within the midst of a painful cardiac episode and his days are numbered in single digits. Each time his chest constricts and oxygen-deprived panic units in, Charlie snatches up a treasured piece of literary criticism for calming consolation – an essay on Moby Dick (sure, there’s quite a lot of ‘whale’ metaphors occurring right here) through which the creator posits that Melville’s painfully detailed detours into the strategies and trivia of whaling are merely the narrator’s try to supply readers respite from “his personal unhappy story”.
Because the movie progresses, we regularly be taught the small print of Charlie’s personal unhappy story and why this clever, articulate lover of literature has shut the door of his shabby condo to the surface world with a view to lay siege to his physique with a day by day onslaught of greasy quick meals.
He can now not transfer round with out the help of a strolling body, and even the straightforward act of getting up from the sofa to go to the bathroom – we’re spared the grim logistics concerned in that individual manoeuvre, fortunately – requires a herculean effort.
“I used to be all the time heavy, however then issues kinda received out of hand,” he confesses.
The catalyst for Charlie’s self-destruction includes a guilt-wracked double-whammy of tragic loss and household estrangement which has seen this delicate soul ‘consuming his emotions’ by means of life-changing heartbreak and onwards to literal and life-threatening heartache.
Charlie’s solely remaining lifelines to the surface world are the inventive writing college students he tutors on-line (with digital camera switched off to spare his blushes) and Liz (Hong Chau), the sarcastic but caring nurse who checks on him day by day.
Initially, she looks as if a healthcare customer, however when Liz implores that Charlie go to the hospital after taking an ominous blood stress studying, he argues that he has no medical insurance coverage.
“Higher to be in debt and alive,” Liz admonishes, to no avail. And, if she’s so involved for Charlie’s well being, why is she additionally bringing him large buckets of fried rooster and double-meatball subs loaded with further cheese?
In The Whale, Aronofsky and Hunter move considerably clumsy touch upon our complicated psychological relationship with meals, how that has been corrupted by the worldwide dominance of American quick meals tradition (the large jug of Weight-reduction plan Pepsi that is all the time by Charlie’s facet being a comedic visible cue) and the way gorging and fasting are equally self-destructive behaviours tied to despair and psychological trauma.
Charlie is clearly hooked on his super-sized day by day weight loss program, deriving junkie-esque consolation and pleasure from shovelling it into his face to the purpose of choking – Aronofsky captures the seen aid which washes over the character as he loudly devours the aforementioned rooster dinner in a way that is something however finger-lickin’ good, and at one level we witness him descending right into a manic binge and purge pizza-guzzling spiral set to Rob Simonsen’s needlessly melodramatic rating.
Aronofsky leans into The Whale’s single set stage origins, framing his movie in a slender, Eighties TV-spec 4:3 side ratio to additional improve its claustrophobic really feel, taking pictures Fraser’s blubbery, extensively prosthetics-enhanced visage in unflattering close-up and together with a number of topless scenes through which his humongous flabby kind is revealed in all its horrible glory.
Whereas we grow to be uncomfortably acquainted with Charlie’s monstrous physicality, the character’s particular motivations and trauma stay frustratingly out of focus – a pity, since there is a terribly ironic aspect to his over-eating which is doubtlessly far more attention-grabbing than gawping at rolls of flab.
The emotionally fragile Charlie visibly flinches when voices are raised in frustration/anger and his default response to any confrontation is to instantly apologise. This meekness is complemented by a naive optimism and a compulsion to solely see the nice in everybody, even those that are brazenly hostile in direction of him.
Why? As a result of ‘Christ metaphor’. It is one other clumsy aspect of a narrative through which the failings of organised faith come into play through an enigmatic door-to-door missionary, Thomas (Ty Simpkins).
Poisonous teen Ellie (Sadie Sink) additionally visits Charlie’s lair, speaking solely through offended outbursts, sarcastic remarks and withering put-downs. Naturally, he is pinned his closing hope of redemption on establishing a bond with this astringent adolescent.
Most individuals shall be watching The Whale for Brendan Fraser’s Oscar-nominated efficiency, and it is positively price seeing only for how successfully he manages to convey the immense emotional burden that weighs even heavier upon the doomed Charlie than his grotesque bodily girth.
It is only a pity there is not leaner, extra nourishing meat on the bones of the story itself, and that Aronofsky did not deliver extra of his signature subversion to bear upon its flabbier components.