Allow me first to acknowledge that Brendan Fraser is a phenomenal actor and his brilliant performance in The Whale exposes so much honesty in the character of Charlie, a queer man grieving the loss of his partner and attempting to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter (Sadie Sink) during his final days.
There is no denying that Fraser is superb, as are Sink and Hong Chau as Liz, his caregiver. But looking beyond these actors’ undeniable talent, The Whale is heart-wrenchingly problematic, to say the least.
Written by Samuel D. Hunter and based on his play of the same name, The Whale is less an autobiographical piece and more inspired by a particular time in Hunter’s life.
During the Toronto International Film Festival, Hunter spoke about the story of the film and the vulnerability of allowing audiences to see this deeply personal part of his history, revealing, “The story at the heart of The Whale and character of Charlie draw from some deep and difficult personal truths for me.” Hunter added, “I grew up as a gay kid in a town in North Idaho, closeted and attending a religious high school, which taught that people like me shouldn’t exist.” Odd to then make a film that perpetuates hate against fat people and argues they shouldn’t exist.