• Jack Aling

The Whale - Review (London Film Festival 2022)

I'm Not Interested in Being Saved. 5 / 5



Directed by Darren Aronofsky.

A reclusive English teacher suffering from severe obesity attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption.


Brendan Fraser returns to the big screen with the comeback performance to end all comebacks in Darren Aronofsky's latest The Whale.


Fraser plays Charlie, a man who has lost touch with what is important to him; isolating himself, suffering from severe obesity, giving up on everything except attempting to reconnect with his absent daughter. It is devastating to watch someone destroy themselves from the inside out as Charlie medicates with overeating. The film makes it almost impossible to ignore this self destructive behaviour as it forces you to watch him at his darkest moments but there is a sense of bittersweet heartbreak as he still holds on to hope of those few that surround him.


I don't have much to add to the conversation around Fraser's performance. It's without a doubt the best of the year and it will have to take something truly special to beat this come awards season. Playing a man that has lost everything except his humanity is distressing to watch and it sits in parallel to Fraser's own comeback story. Being in the room at the only standing ovation I've ever seen at London Film Festival, celebrating the performance of a lifetime is a memory I will never forget - Fraser deserves the world.


The film is purposely claustrophobic with one key location and a limited but just as impactful supporting cast - Aronofsky never makes this morbid setting feel bland or tedious. What really surprised me is how much I laughed. Amongst the unease, there are much needed moments of dark humour which help lift the mood in a hopeless place.


One of the best of this year's LFF, whoever snaps this up for UK distribution has a tough marketing challenge on their hands but an absolute winner.



Written by Jack Aling Read his latest reviews at: letterboxd.com/TheJackAling

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