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Look past the Brendan Fraser lovefest and you’ll find that not a lot of elements in The Whale, another tonally misjudged misfire for Darren Aronofsky, actually work.

For all the talent Darren Aronofsky often displays, he has shown throughout his career that juggling all the elements in his movies into a coherent, satisfying whole is not always his strong suit. Never is this more apparent than in his most recent film The Whale.

To be fair, Aronofsky adapts a stage play that cannot have been very good to begin with. From the weak character development to the blunt metaphors and the underdeveloped dialogue: there is not much in The Whale that actually works. Aranofsky's own stagey direction doesn't help either to elevate the tale.

Perhaps the actors give The Whale added prestige then? Only to a certain extent. Brendan Fraser has been getting the most attention for his portrayal of a troubled, mortally obese literature teacher but, while good, I never found him revelatory. Hong Chau is much better as the woman who takes care of him: Chau's Oscar nomination is well-deserved. Still, sticking with the lack of tonal coherence, Sadie Sink and Ty Simpkins were not my cup of tea at all, to put it mildly.

But the thing that pushes the Whale from the disappointing category to that of bad films are the annoying religious overtones that seep through the scenes. It's as though Aronofsky has learned nothing from the failures of Noah and Mother!

release: 2022

director: Darren Aronofsky

starring: Brendan Fraser, Hong Chau, Sadie Sink, Ty Simpkins


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