The Whale Review : This Relentlessly Dark &  Bleak Tale is not everyone’s cup of tea !

The Whale (2022/ Drama/ Sonyliv) 

Writer : Samuel D. Hunter 

Director: Darren Aronofsky 

Cast: Brandon Fraser, Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, Ty Simpkins, Samantha Morton

The film’s biggest problem is the lack of hope of in its entire narrative.

The film moves from one portion of misery to another like there’s no end to the misery. 

It makes us feel deeply unsettled as a viewer and we know Darren Aronofsky is known for it. His previous films like Black Swan and Mother also made me uncomfortable and who can forget his signature piece Requiem for a Dream which is the epitome, but The Whale is relentless in this pursuit. 

It’s as if the filmmaker wants to manufacture that feeling rather than balance it out. Here are the positives and negatives according to me. 

The positives: 

Brandon Fraser is a force to be reckoned with. In this relentlessly bleak tale, he gives the character of Charlie, his everything, without making it feel as trying too hard and fits very naturally into this role. His struggles to cope with his condition and regret of not being a good parent have been conveyed very effectively and he single-handedly carries the film. His eyes speak volumes. He deserves that Oscar, man! 

The dialogues of the film are also the USP of this film, as they not only effectively portray the theme of the film, but also provide an effective journey into the mind of the protagonist. 

One scene where he blames himself for his daughter being a brat and consoles his wife about it is heartbreaking, the dialogue in this scene works like a razor-sharp knife. 

The makeup department must be commended for detailing Charlie’s character to the extent that he feels like a real person. Dare I say the makeup department did an equally good job in bringing the character to life as much as Fraser did. Kudos to them !

The negatives: 

The screenplay as I’ve said earlier, proceeds from one portion of sadness to another. As a viewer, I got numb and pretty much less reactive as the proceedings went. 

I was like ” You know what? I get it, man”. But the film drags on with this narrative. 

The only happy scene is towards the fag end when everything is practically done and dusted, which is too little and too late. Somewhere as a viewer, I got disconnected from the artificiality of all of it.

I feel that other characters and the dynamics between Charlie and his Daughter or Charlie and his wife or between Charlie and his caretaker could have been fleshed out better which would have been beautiful to watch, but the film brushes on the surface levels and doesn’t explore much of these at all. 

The frames are way too dull, almost like Game of thrones season 8 .

I could hardly make out stuff while watching, and I had to squint my eyes in the theatre, damn! 

So not only the film’s screenplay but also the lighting and the shot-blocking is so dark, it feels  manufactured. The metaphors among all this darkness felt even more artificial. 

I was glad to walk out of the theatre after this whole ordeal ended.

Leave a Reply