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The Whale Blu-ray Review

Great acting can’t save “The Whale.”

Based on the play by Samuel D. Hunter (who also wrote this script for this feature film version), “The Whale” centers around Charlie- a self-loathing, gay, obese teacher who is dying from congestive heart failure. His life is filled with regret. He abandoned his wife and daughter (Ellie) for the man he loved (Alan) who later committed suicide. Charlie wants nothing more than to reconnect with Ellie, but she is resistant. Elsewhere in the story are 2 key plotlines involving Charlie’s friend and nurse Liz and a mysterious New Life church missionary (Thomas).

Since his feature film debut in 1998 with “Pi,” director Darren Aronofsky has had a varied career with very visual films which makes “The Whale” a bit of an odd choice for the noted filmmaker. In addition to a puzzling aspect ratio choice, the film is largely set in an apartment so it’s not exactly the most cinematic of stories. It’s also a rather problematic and not so subtle redemptive melodrama at its core as it not only perpetuates stereotypes about obese individuals, but is inherently fatphobic. It’s pretty bizarre that a hit reality show like “1000 Pound Sisters” displays more empathy and humanity than this instantly dated and generally punishing drama does (although both are exploitative).

The only redeeming quality here is the acting which is spectacular across the board. Say what you will about the makeup and prosthetics and the conversation around its usage, but Brendan Fraser gives an incredible now Oscar winning performance as Charlie. Seeing his comeback over the past few years has been a great story and hopefully the actor will continue to thrive. Despite earning an Oscar nomination, Hong Chau is as underrated as ever as Liz. She’s the type of actress that can make you laugh and cry like very few can. Sadie Sink of “Stranger Things” fame continues her rise to fame as the troubled Ellie. Her chemistry with Fraser is nothing short of stunning especially in the final minutes.


Presentation: 1.33:1 1080p. How does it look? The stylistic shot on digital film has a peculiar look to it and it doesn’t exactly wow you even in hi-def. Still, the transfer is quality.

Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? Aside from the score, the mostly dialogue heavy film isn’t very audio intensive, but the 5.1 track does the job. 

* A24 trailers
* Digital copy.
* “People Are Amazing: Making The Whale”- A nearly 25 minute featurette on bringing the play to the big screen. The characters, cast, and production are also touched upon here. Interviews, film clips and set footage is included.
* “Sounds Of The Sea: Scoring The Whale” is all about Rob Simonsen’s score.


March 17, 2023 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , ,

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