Brendan Fraser gives a career-defining performance in Darren Aronofsky’s arrestingly intimate drama about a reclusive English professor struggling with personal relationships and self-acceptance. Working from home, Charlie (Fraser) never seems to have his webcam enabled while teaching online. He makes excuses and is so good-natured that no one makes a fuss, but the real reason for his invisibility is his appearance. Charlie weighs 600 pounds. Cared for by his friend Liz (Hong Chau), Charlie’s increasingly volatile health and status quo is put through the ringer by the return of his estranged daughter (Sadie Sink of Stranger Things). With THE WHALE — the title a reference to Moby Dick, Charlie’s favorite book — screenwriter Samuel D. Hunter, here adapting his own play, has given us a story that fuses love, grief, and discomfort as a zigzag path to empathy.
“The intense chamber drama never disguises its stage roots but transcends them with the grace and compassion of the writing and the layers of pain and despair, love and dogged hope peeled back in the central performance. Fraser makes us see beyond the alarming appearance to the deeply affecting heart of this broken man.” —David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter “...Here’s a movie predisposed to conjure a whirlpool of a bad faith discourse: it will be called cruel, it will be called exploitative, it will be decried as vituperative. But to evoke any of these adjectives would be to critically miss the point…. What it boasts in abundance — in this riveting study of a deeply broken man, suffocated by nine years of self-immolation — is a rare and deep compassion, elevated by Fraser’s starring turn.” —Jack King, The Playlist “Quibbles and conversation starters aside, THE WHALE is Aronofsky's kindest work to date, a film that asks its audience to practice acceptance, understanding, empathy, and forgiveness.” —Jane Crowther, Total Film