One of the most talked about films of recent months, without a doubt, is The Whale (The Whale, in translation), a new production by the renowned production company A24. Directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Brendan Fraser, who had been missing from the big screen, the feature film even won three Oscar 2023 nominations and a Golden Globe nomination, two of the biggest film awards in the world. However, not everything is rosy for the projection, which has been facing some problems.
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We explain: despite all the hype created over A Baleia, the production received mixed reactions from critics and viewers. Brendan Fraser, for example, although he received a nomination for Best Actor at the 2023 Oscars for his role in the project after being away from the cinema for 12 years, has been heavily criticized for having accepted the position. And this is due to the following question: shouldn’t a movie about an obese character cast an obese actor?
Brendan Fraser plays a morbidly obese character in The Whale, which has garnered mixed reviews.Source: A24
In case you didn’t already know, The Whale tells the story of Charlie (Fraser), a man with the disease of obesity who sees his health getting worse and worse over the years, as well as his past traumas. Confronted by his own mortality, he, an English teacher who becomes a recluse, seeks to reconcile with his teenage daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink) and the rest of his family before it’s too late.
Controversies involving The Whale
The fact that the actor The Mummy (1999) playing an obese character, even though he is not, and, for that, he had to wear something called in the cinema a “fat suit” (a type of costume that turns the actor or actress in question into a fat person) , did not go down very well with part of the media and moviegoers, who defend the idea that the work should have cast someone who better fit the profile of the protagonist and who knew, in fact, the challenges of being an obese person.
The repercussions around this subject come before the official launch of A Baleia, which, in Brazil, premiered only last Thursday (February 23). However, internationally, the feature had already landed at some film festivals and, since then, it has already raised some eyebrows. Fraser has even given interviews in which he defends the film and the creative choices made by Aronofsky.
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“I respect those who don’t agree with everything the film brings. I don’t agree with them [críticos] because I know there were no bad intentions. I know I want to know if I – I, Brendan – did any damage. But the answer I got from OAC [Obesity Action Coalition] was ‘keep doing what you’re doing’. We made the movie we wanted to make, and we did it right. And I stand for that,” said the artist in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times.
In another interview, this time with the Screen Rant website, by the way, the actor revealed that he spoke with many people from OAC, an organization that is dedicated to giving voice to people with the disease of obesity. “[…] I learned from talking to people in these conditions often that their life circumstances started very early. Someone spoke to them with discrimination, someone hurt them, someone was vindictive to them and it stayed with them. Words can hurt and they can do damage, and I believe we can do better,” said the actor, referring to the way the media addresses issues related to obesity and fatphobia.
As well as the star of demonic (2000), the director of The whale also defended the production several times, stating that it tried to create an empathetic approach to the character of Charlie, a respectful representation of obese people (when compared to other films). However, despite Fraser’s and Aronofsky’s statements, many are still unhappy with the final result of the projection and don’t think it deserves all the recognition it has been getting.
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Some viewers also criticized the film’s title (The whale), stating that the term is disrespectful and that it should not be linked to obesity, as reported by Jornal da Band on Wednesday (1). On the other hand, some defend the idea that the title is a metaphor or a kind of irony (as if the wrong term was used on purpose only to be rebutted during the film’s narrative, which would show how curses and words like that make sense).
Could it be that, even after all the controversies, The Whale will it have the strength to win its categories at the Oscars? Let’s wait!