The Whale Movie Review

Knowing nothing about “The Whale,” except that it stars Brendan Fraser, is the best way to see this movie. Try not to watch or read that much about it. It’s the unknown that holds your interest. Your eyes are wide, and you’ll feel as if you’re being tied down and kept watching… waiting to see what becomes of this man’s life. I say this because I mean it, but from almost the opening scene, you’ll be so engaged you’ll be unable to even eat your popcorn.

The main character is Charlie, for whom Brendan Fraser is being mentioned in the Best Actor category for playing. I will say this much. It’s my prediction that he’ll win that award. There are moments when Charlie speaks that you’ll find it difficult to see. Why? Because they’ll be pooling with tears. It’s easy to feel for him. It’s easy to want for him and to fight for him. You want Charlie, who’s intelligent and kind, to improve in the one way that he must, but in the one way he seems incapable of.


You’ll sit through the entirety of “The Whale,” hoping that at any minute, you’ll glimpse the moment when Charlie makes a change and reverses what he has done to himself. You’ll be powerless to tear yourself away from praying for this revelation; for the realization to hit him that he must make it happen and that he wants it more than he wants an entire pizza. Surely there’s a montage where you watch the weight fall off, right?


Fraser plays this character with all the pain, heart, loneliness, and love he can bring to the table. Charlie is a professor who teaches English online. He is so disgusted with himself that he never sets up his camera. He doesn’t want the students to ever see what he looks like. Through Fraser’s massive transfiguring prosthetic attire, Brendan does not appear. With little movements, such as picking something up from the floor, he truly disappears, and Charlie comes to light. His large fingers, swollen legs, constant sweating, and labored breathing help you visualize how difficult being Charlie would be. Watching him eat will make you angry with him for giving up on what he could have.


Homebound due to his enormous size, a few minutes into “The Whale,” he’s attempting to gratify himself with a video of two men having sex. It doesn’t go well. You learn a lot from this shot. What he looks like, how he lives and who he is. You instantly feel sorry for Charlie, who appears to have no pleasure in life, and due to his health, none will be coming anytime soon. He has a friend named Liz (Hong Chau), who loves him and cares and cleans for him. She encourages him to go to the hospital while, at the same time, bringing him footlong meatball subs to ingest. She wants to please him, but this isn’t the way. He has the compulsion to eat and she’s a friend who’ll do whatever it takes to help someone feel better. This doesn’t pair well when eating what she brings is what’s killing the man.


Outside of the pizza delivery guy, there are three other characters. His ex-wife, Mary (Samantha Morton), his estranged daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink) and Thomas (Ty Simpkins), a young man knocking on doors attempting to save as many souls as possible in the pursuit of saving his own.

The storyline with Thomas gets old fast. He welcomes himself into the life of a man who fell into a depression after he lost the love of his life. Through Ellie, we see Thomas has his own issues and should look more deeply into those.

Learning recently he doesn’t have long to live, Charlie tries desperately to dig through his guilt to get to know a grieving daughter who doesn’t know the word forgiveness. She pushes back against this idea.

The story could have been better, but Fraser’s inspiring performance must be seen. So, you have to sit through some stale moments to watch him at his best. To witness the best that the last few years have had to offer, it’s a necessity that you see Fraser’s “Charlie.”

The Whale


Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Written by: Samuel D. Hunter
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, Ty Simpkins, Samantha Morton

Rated: R (Language|Some Drug Use|Sexual Content)
Runtime: 1h 57m
Genre: Drama

Distributed by: A24


Rating contributor: ShariK.Green tmc
I'm the Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager for I write, direct and produce short films with my production company, Good Stew Productions. Though it's difficult to answer this question when asked, I'd say my favorite movie is “The Big Chill.” I enjoy photography, poetry, and hiking and I adore animals, especially elephants. I live in Arizona and feel it's an outstanding and inspirational place to live.

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