In at least three of the most important scenes of The WhaleDarren Aronofsky’s Charlie (Brendan Fraser) explores guilt from the twisted. In fact, the main theme of this film, at times confused and messy, is a great vital question about invisible suffering. For the occasion, the filmmaker delves into the disgusting, the distressing and the need to understand human life through its shortcomings.
But, as in other of his films, his characters do not carry out such a journey through subtle ideas. The Whale it is so hard that sometimes it arouses pity and, at the same time, revulsion. In her best moments, she has an inspired capacity for the grotesque metaphor.
The story of a man isolated by the limits of his body might seem simple if it weren’t for the plot’s ability to disturb. And he manages, most of the time by force, to build an unpleasant panorama, to carefully deconstruct it. Leaving no doubt of Charlie’s suffering and his perennial feeling of being a stranger in his own body.
Aronofsky portrayed the perversion of drugs in Requiem for a Dream through an unquestionable horror more and more absolute. In The Whale, get something similar. But it also describes a total fall into psychological darkness of his character through almost vomiting images. All while he appeals to the humanity, the fragility and the bewilderment of a man broken into many different fragments.
The Whale could be completely unbearable if Brendan Fraser were not able to build a deep and sensitive look at a critical emotional pain. It is his performance that makes it possible for the film to be more than just a sordid parade of grotesque scenes. Beyond that, the interpreter manages to create a perception about Charlie that is much more than the underlining of ideas about his invisible horrors. A merit that gives the character a total humanity that moves and defies any immediate classification. In the end, The Whale isn’t looking for character redemption from him or hinting at the possibility that everything will “be okay.” Actually, it is an introspective fall into hell. One so powerful and well told that it ends up supporting a version of suffering that, at its best, is almost poetic.
The labyrinth of horrors in The Whale
In The Whale, unpleasant elements are a language. The director’s camera shows the character hidden behind the black box on the computer screen. A voice that emerges to read or the silence of the listener, terrified to express any opinion. After masturbating to gay pornography, devastated by what he considers to be the dark layers of his life. Even when eating, with grease-smeared fingers and trembling hands.
For Aronofsky it is of considerable importance to make clear that Charlie suffers, that he is torn by a moral and spiritual wound. But, specifically, what all that complicated inner map is manifested in his body. The character, so obese that he can barely stand up, is, in the context of the film, the very image of despair. The director strives to make the visual story claustrophobic, until the viewer finds themselves connected to Charlie’s experience. Everything in the perception of the body as a violent layer, a devastating limit to any hope and aspiration.
The Whale he elaborates a version about the body as a prison that is oppressive. Especially since Charlie is trapped, not just on the fringes of his obesity, but on the fringes of his pain and prejudice. As a gay man who admitted to his sexuality at a mature age, he still struggles and struggles to understand his identity. But Aronofsky is not trying to make self-discovery a form of liberation. In fact, he fights because it is the complete opposite. An unpleasant and violent jail that limits the spaces for communication, love and emotional relationships to levels of deep anguish.
A look at the individual trapped in his skin
Charlie is a hostage. Of his physical weakness, his inability to understand his life and even the sensitivity that torments him. But also of his ailments and discomforts. His slow physical deterioration becomes one of the central themes of The Whale. It is also the way in which Aronofsky dialogues with the perception of good and evil. The camera zooms in on Fraser’s character to show loneliness and uprooting from it through darkening despair.
Cloistered in his little apartment, Charlie goes through a pathetic confinement. A total marginalization of the world that little by little becomes more painful; a complicated terrain that Aronofsky crosses making clear the borders of the world of his character. His sensitivity, the search for an answer to the complete loneliness that surrounds him, a perennial agony unable to comfort.
Much less when her daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink) makes it clear what her future could be. The arrival of the teenager contextualizes Charlie’s life. She narrates the “before” of accepting her sexual orientation and sinking into all her pains. The script by Darren Aronofsky himself, based on the work by Samuel D. Hunter, delves into that version of Charlie’s conception of himself. “I was a father before I knew the man he was,” he says, stunned, tormented. Ellie, enraged, bewildered, is perhaps, in all her vitality, Charlie’s only link to the world.
The Whale highlights the incredible work of Brendan Fraser
The Whale It could be completely unbearable, if Brendan Fraser were not able to build a deep and sensitive look on a critical emotional pain. It is his performance that makes it possible for the film to be more than just a sordid parade of grotesque scenes. But, beyond that, the interpreter manages to create a perception about Charlie that is much more than the underlining of ideas about his invisible horrors. A merit that gives the character a total humanity that moves and defies any immediate classification.
In the end, The Whale he doesn’t seek redemption for his character or hint at the possibility that everything will “be alright” sooner or later. In reality, the film is an introspective fall into hell. One so powerful and well told that it ends up supporting a version of suffering that, at its best, is almost poetic. Its strongest and most elegant point.