Movie Review: “The Whale” starring Brendan Fraser
If we went for a coffee today, I might talk to you about this movie I saw recently.
Why did I watch this movie?
Somehow, I came across a clip on Twitter of Brendan Fraser’s acceptance speech for the academy award he received. It was a moving speech. He talked about how his career as an actor was as good as dead, and how he had this opportunity to make this film, and was genuinely grateful for the people that picked him for the part. He also talked about the story and how important it was. And, he cried while talking.
It made me interested in it. I told Gen and although it’s not at all her kind of movie, we watched it over two evenings.
What is it about?
It’s based on a play, set in the rented apartment of an obese man named Charlie in his last week of life. In that final week, we meet Liz, who is a nurse, that comes by frequently to check on him, urge him to go to the hospital and does her best to protect him. We also meet Thomas, a young man, who is a missionary, out trying to “save” people. Much of the focus of the story is on Ellie, who we discover is his estranged, troubled, teenaged daughter. Lastly, we meet Mary, his ex-wife.
The movie is about Charlie’s efforts to reconnect with his daughter as he’s dying. It’s complicated by his ex-wife, by Thomas’s visits, by Liz’s protective presence, his grief over his deceased gay lover and his apparent grotesque physical condition.
The idea that the writer is exploring, is how honesty is the path to salvation.
What did I think?
Here’s some thoughts in no particular order:
The acting deserved the academy award. Brendan Fraser is in top form. Liz was captivating. The story is delicately told, as bits of information come dripping out, depth and mystery are revealed, layers of complexity form, the plot twists are shocking, the dialogue saturated with emotion, and the ending is rapturous.
I’m still putting all the pieces together, the bits of the details that were given that didn’t have immediate resolution. Gen and I had a good conversation afterwards.
Hollywood doesn’t understand evangelicals.
But, then, evangelicals weren’t really the point, the point was religion as a whole devoid of honesty.
I’m still sorting the gay relationship that was depicted in how and why it was important to the flow of the narrative. Our culture is still sorting these things too.
Why was the news of the Republican primaries in 2016 the only TV we saw? Well, there was the opening scene of kissing gay men.
I think the bird represented Charlie’s efforts with Ellie.
Thomas’s redemption was almost unbelievable. However, in the writing of fiction, and sometimes real life, these things do happen.
I loved how Charlie died.
Can people really “not be uncaring?”
This is layer upon layer of father-child relationships that have gone sour and are desperate for reconciliation. Every character displays this dynamic.
It’s not for the faint of heart. Evangelicals will be rightly troubled by how they are depicted. There are elements of the film and the story that are shocking to our sensibilities. It’s not for children.
Yet, our surrounding culture is saying something. They are longing for meaning. This film strongly proclaims that meaning is found in honesty, and honesty is the path to salvation. These are themes we can get behind. They are the main themes of addiction recovery. Even Jordan Peterson would say “amen.”