The Whale (2022)
I know, I know - I'm late getting to this and it's not by accident. Truth is that I really wasn't looking forward to it at all. The themes and potential exploitation I witnessed at point of trailer put me in two minds. Duty demands what it demands, however, and see it I must. If not, I probably would have missed it. To my cost, maybe, but still.
I didn't for a minute expect this to be anything other than excellent. The number of awards Brendan Fraser has been put forward for and the buzz around the film itself speaks volumes, of course. And this was Darren Aronofksy. His movies are nothing if not incendiary. Just look at 'Mother!' for example. Ultimately, you're unlikely to come out of this feeling nothing. Love it or hate it, it's going to prompt you, like it or not.
For one thing and on the plus side, it made me feel a lot thinner than I thought I was. Shallow that may be, but it still cheered me nonetheless. Also, I was happy to see that I'm not the only father that doesn't have as rounded and complete a relationship with their grown up kids as they would like, but also doesn't want to guilt them into caring either. Obviously, the differences are vast and varied, but I recognise some of the experiences that Charlie goes through. Even if his daughter Ellie, played by Sadie Sink, is a bit of first class teenage bitch sometimes.
A long, cold and hard look at obesity at its most extreme, I imagine, without watching alarming documentaries on Channel 5, involving winches and re-enforced hospital floors. But this is so much more than just pointing at the fat man. Grisly though his appearance may seem to most, it is the relationship with his daughter that takes centre stage, despite his self-imposed handicaps. How much you swallow in this regard, given that he makes no excuse for not staying in touch with her from the age of eight onwards and now, knowing his earthly time has most likely come, becomes keen to re-connect, is open to question still.
"This is the first time we've been together for almost nine years. Do you realise that?"
The performances are indeed brilliant and the story, if you'll pardon the pun, has huge chunks of meat on its bones. Samantha Morton's all too brief appearance as ex-wife and mother to Ellie is nothing short of stunning and completely engaging.
Make no mistake, there is a massive wedge of self-importance running through this. Even at his most honest, he explains that he wants to know that he has done just one thing in his life that was worthwhile. Suitably selfish then?
Well, when one has given up on life, accepting that he had planned to be remembered by people who quite possibly hate him and would only remember him for the money he provided, then it's really no surprise that, with nothing else to live for, why not have another pizza?
If it teaches us anything , it is to be grateful that as a viewer, you're not a drug addict or an alcoholic with nobody to love or to be loved back by. I both loved and hated every minute.