Controversial Cinema

The Whale, A24’s Most Talked About Film This Year, Releases Its First Trailer

After mountains of press circulating around the film, production company A24 has finally released its first trailer to its electrifying, yet controversial film The Whale

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker David Aronofsky, The Whale places Brendan Fraser in the role of Charlie, a gay reclusive teacher reeling from the death of his lover. Tucked away in his home, Charlie struggles with numerous health ailments, including navigating a body that weighs 600 pounds. While he is supported by one of his few friends, his nurse Liz (Hong Chau), he has an estranged relationship with his daughter, Ellie (Sadie Sink), who he strives to reconnect with. 

Based on the play by gay playwright Samuel D. Hunter, The Whale has received unanimous praise for Fraser’s depiction of Charlie. The film has received a collection of awards during the fall festival circuit and Fraser even received a six-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival that brought the 53-year-old actor to tears. 

“It felt so affirming,” Fraser said to Variety in response to the film festival support. “I was emotional because it was acknowledgment that what we did is making an impact. And that kind of response feels completely new in my professional life.”

The Whale serves as a silver screen comeback of sorts for Fraser. While he has been steady working, he currently stars in HBO’s Doom Patrol, fervor for Fraser seemed to fizzle out after the 90s ended. But that seems to be changing with this new role. Fraser is eyed to be in the running for numerous prestigious acting awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actor. 

The Whale also marks Aronofsky’s return to cinema after he released his controversial 2017 film Mother! starring Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence. But Aronofsky is now stranger to controversy and The Whale has been met with its own fair share. 

While many praise Fraser’s performance, the film has also been criticized for placing Fraser in a prosthetic fat suit, as well as for perpetuating fatphobic themes. Additionally, Fraser’s casting as a straight man adds to the conversations around heterosexual actors playing queer roles. However, Aronofsky stated for Deadline that Fraser was the perfect choice for the role, saying that it took 10 years to find the right actor for the role. 

“Meeting him as a gentleman and getting a sense of his presence, I was like, ‘This guy could pull it off.’ It was just a gut feeling,” Aronofsky said for Deadline. “We put up a reading of the script, and from that moment, it was like, ‘OK, we’ve got Charlie.’”

And due to the universal praise that Fraser received from the film festival circuit this fall, many are interested in how this film plays when it comes to theaters. 

The Whale premieres in theaters on December 9, 2022. 

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