Words are not able to express the poignant masterpiece that is The Whale


Via @thewhalemov on Instagram

The Whale was quite possibly the best movie I’ve ever watched in terms of the performances and themes in the film.

My mom told me a few months ago that there would be a new Brendan Fraser movie coming out. Truthfully, that didn’t mean much to me at the moment; that is, until I watched the trailer. 

This was the first movie trailer that hit me this hard. I’m known to cry at most movies—really, it is somewhat of a problem—but the poignancy of the two-minute preview for The Whale alone proved to me that this would be a difficult watch. 

Brendan Fraser isn’t George of the Jungle anymore. He’s not the Encino Man. This is a new era of now-Oscar-winning acting from Fraser entirely, and it’s absolutely gut-wrenching to watch. 

There are no words to truly describe the grief this film made me feel, but the best I can say is that The Whale is entirely unmatched in every way. 

The Whale features Fraser as the main character, Charlie: a reclusive virtual English teacher struggling with severe obesity and a strained relationship with his daughter, Ellie (Sadie Sink). Charlie’s best friend, Liz (Hong Chau) serves as his support system, acting sometimes as an unofficial home nurse. 

At the very beginning of the film, we learn that Charlie is gay and left his wife because of this. As the story goes, he once had a partner, Alan, who happened to be Liz’s brother; but, having been raised Christian, Alan had struggled with the reality of maintaining a Christian mindset while being gay, and his church was everything but accepting of him. Alan’s absence from the cast is congruous to Charlie’s subsequent downfall. 

Thomas (Ty Simpkins) is an evangelical missionary attempting to spread the word of his church—albeit the same church that Alan had once attended—and he becomes a semi-frequently present character in Charlie’s life. 

Charlie’s relationship with Ellie is heartbreaking, to say the least. She expresses nothing but hatred toward him for the majority of the movie, but he maintains an entirely positive view of her. He only sees the good in her actions, even when there is none. That’s the kicker: it’s a completely one-sided relationship during the large majority of the film. 

Brendan Fraser and Hong Chau (not pictured) both won Oscars for their performances in The Whale.

In terms of the acting, I think Fraser’s performance was genuinely the most beautiful expression of grief and pain I’ve ever seen. I know that I tend to overstate my appreciation for the acting in most of my reviews, but this film was one of the most difficult to watch specifically because of the pain in Fraser’s eyes. There is nothing in this movie that didn’t exceed my expectations in every way, and I was already in tears by the ten-minute mark. 

The symbolism is insanely placed and beautifully done. Charlie, himself, is “the whale” in the story, and one incredible thing about the depth of the film is that all of the art on the walls in his house is nautical-themed to express this even more. Every time Charlie’s health declines rapidly, he reads the same piece of writing every time. It’s an essay about Moby Dick, and we don’t know why until the very end of the film.

There are no words to truly describe the grief this film made me feel, but the best I can say is that The Whale is entirely unmatched in every way.