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The Whale (Venice Film Festival)

2 min read

A24

If you've spent any time on the internet you know that 's film renaissance has been long anticipated by fans and critics alike. Well his return is officially here and it is glorious. 

Embodying the full heart and soul of Darren Aronofsky's new drama , Fraser's performance is honest, sincere and will leave viewers absolutely stunned.

The new psychological drama encompasses the last week in the life of Charlie, a severly obese teacher who has suffered through depression, eating disorders and now heart failure after losing a loved one. 

The plot is a simple one… a man reaching out to his teenage daughter in his final days. 

However, Aronofsky goes so much further, imbuing the film with a deep sense of space and thoughtfulness despite never leaving a single apartment. Theatrical in nature, The Whale doesn't shy away from the natural silence, reactions, and physicality that accompanies Charlie's tragic last week. Its pulsating score creates the pulse of the apartment, providing clear emotional direction as it races through devastation.

And yet it isn't always a devastating watch. The film manages to blend light-hearted friendships, reconciliations and elements of comedy within the reflective piece, instilling encouragements of positivity and loving amazement amongst the hardship. 

This is mostly thanks to the incredible work of Fraser who brings Charlie to life with grace and full-bodied enthusiasm, creating a well-rounded character who is sensitive, thoughtful, sympathetic and oh so optimistic. He has one goal for his end days, and seeing Charlie work to achieve it is so joyful, regardless of the deeply disheartening and hard to watch circumstances that have led to his illness. 

Surrounding Fraser is a small but captivating ensemble of friends and family. Hong Chau as friend Liz is a wonder to watch, adding humour, passion and deep-set platonic love to her every scene. Ty Simpkins creates an intriguing young missionary, and Samantha Morton as Charlie's ex-wife is a powerhouse of emotion. 

However, it is, of course, daughter Ellie who brings the most drama to the small, decaying apartment. 

Sadie Sink is beyond amazing as Fraser's disconnected daughter, adding a level of honesty to the situation that Charlie not only admires but adores. Sink appears so comfortable in this role, which is not dissimilar to her Stranger Things past, bringing much depth to the complicated feelings of this long-broken family dynamic. Angry, disillusioned and often very mean, Sink's Ellie remains a most intriguing figure to watch. 

If Charlie brings the light, then Ellie brings the darkness. 

And it is this contrasting father-daughter dynamic which remains the greatest highlight of this slow, thoughtful, theatrical walk, through mental illness and the end of a life. 

While never pleasant or easy to watch, The Whale is ever entrancing and endlessly tear jerking, a must see for Fraser, Sink, Aronofsky and general film fans alike. 

The Whale aired at Venice International Film Festival