Whale, The: Aronofsky’s Psychological Drama, Starring Brendan Fraser

Darren Aronofsky directed The Whale, a psychological drama, scripted by Samuel D. Hunter, based on Hunter’s 2012 play of the same name.

The film stars Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, Samantha Morton, and Ty Simpkins.

The movie is scheduled to be theatrically released on December 9, 2022 by A24.

Premise

A middle-aged obese man (600-pound) named Charlie (Brendan Fraser) tries to reconnect with his seventeen-year-old daughter. The two grew apart after Charlie had abandoned his family for his gay lover, who later died.

In a run-down apartment in rural Idaho, surrounded by screens and food containers, a recluse doggedly and determinedly eats himself to death.

As he inches closer the inevitable, his friend Liz, a cynical atheist nurse, and Elder Thomas, a young hopeful Mormon missionary, attempt to find in Charlie the will to be saved, physically and spiritually. However, it is only Charlie’s estranged teenage daughter, the acerbic and bitter Ellie, who can make him see any future beyond his current despair.

Detailed Plot:

The Whale depicts the final week in the life of a morbidly obese man who has developed an eating disorder in the years after his boyfriend Alan’s death by suicide, specifically starvation.

Charlie (Brendan Fraser) spends his days confined to his Idaho apartment, subsisting on takeout and groceries delivered to him by Alan’s sister Liz (Hong Chau).

He is teaching online English classes to college students, where he keeps his laptop camera off, worried that his students will be disgusted by his appearance.

Realizing his eating disorder is going to kill him soon, over the course of a single week Charlie attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink).  Ellie is still furious at him for leaving her and her mother Mary (Samantha Morton) eight years ago to be with Alan’s.

Meanwhile, meek missionary Thomas (Ty Simpkins) comes across Charlie in a state of distress while going door-to-door preaching about the New Life cult. She begins visiting daily in an attempt to save Charlie’s eternal soul.

Aronofsky had been trying to get the film made for a decade, but he was hampered by the problem of casting Charlie (its lead character), finding a suitable actor to play this complex role.

When he saw a trailer for Journey to the End of the Night on YouTube, with Brendan Fraser in a supporting role, it “clicked” for him to cast Fraser.

Principal photography began on March 8 and wrapped on April 7, 2021, in Newburgh, New York.

The Whale had its world premiere at the 79th Venice Film Fest September 4, 2022.

Brendan Fraser received the Tribute Award for Performance at the Toronto Fest, where the film made its American premiere on September 11, 2022.

Cast

Brendan Fraser as Charlie
Sadie Sink as Ellie, Charlie’s daughter
Hong Chau as Liz, a nurse and Charlie’s best friend
Samantha Morton as Mary, Charlie’s ex-wife
Ty Simpkins as Thomas, a religious missionary
Sathya Sridharan as Dan, a pizza delivery worker

Darren Aronofsky Filmography

Output: 8 films in 24 years

Pi (1998)

Requiem for a Dream (2000)

The Fountain (2006)

The Wrestler (2008)

Black Swan (2010)

Noah (2014)

Mother! (2017)

The Whale (2022)