I was intrigued when I first heard of the film “The Whale,” starring Brendan Fraiser. I was excited about a film that would make me feel powerful emotions. Unfortunately, I started to feel sadness for a couple weeks, and one of my coping mechanisms is avoiding media that might be triggering. Therefore, I decided to hold off on watching the Whale since I heard that it was pulling my heartstrings. I listened to Brendan Fraser win a Golden Globe for best actor, and I cried watching it because I could his pain through powerful words. I loved what he represented in his speech: hope for hopeless people. Since I have felt hopeless at so many stages of my life, I decided it was time to watch the film. I felt better regarding my mental health, and I was excited to shed some tears and feel what Brendan felt so strongly about.
I just finished Moby Dick with my ESL students, which was nice since it was referenced in the film.
The Whale showcases an online college professor named Charlie. What a sweet name. Charlie was an extremely obese older man who left his wife and daughter for one of his male students. His partner had passed away from an eating disorder and was found on a river bank.
Liz is the sister of Charlie’s lover, Alan. Liz works as a nurse, and we conclude that she’s always giving Charlie medical assistance and has scrubs on when she visits him. One can tell that Liz loves Charlie very much, but she also enables the behavior that ultimately takes Charlie’s life. Charlie is a binge eater. The story starts with Charlie having a mild heart attack or spasm. He gets a knock on the door from a missionary. The missionary often comes back to visit Charlie within the week because he wants to help save Charlie’s soul. Charlie insists that he doesn’t need any savings. We are also introduced to Charlie’s daughter, Ellie. We also get a bit of an appearance of his ex-wife and the delivery guy. It’s a small cast in the whole film and basically takes place in Charlie’s upstairs apartment.
The film showcases the last week of Charlie’s life and his different relationships. I am not here to give you an explanation of every detail that happened in the film. That’s not my style. I will say that the film made me feel something. I couldn’t exactly understand my emotions after I watched it, and I wasn’t sobbing at the end of the film like I hoped I would. Instead, it made me reflect on myself and others in my life. It made me think about the choices we make. During the film, I had this urgency for someone to tell Charlie that he could change his life. Things can be different, and as much as Liz tried to reach out to him, it was a failure. I wanted his daughter to tell him to change his life. I wanted to tell Charlie that, although his partner passed away, he still has his child to think about. She might be a teenager, but she still needs her dad, especially since she’s a troubled teenager. There were moments when Charlie stopped eating and looked at the sandwich or the candy bar, but it wasn’t enough for him to let it go. I understood. Sometimes it’s so hard to control myself and many aspects of my life, and sometimes that means food. Food is comfort. Food makes us feel temporarily good. Fills up the holes inside us for just a couple seconds, maybe, but at least in those couple of seconds, you feel alive and joyful.
I watched the film with my best friend, and we discussed it briefly. I asked him what he thought about the film, and he didn’t say much when he had tears in his eyes. Occasionally, he can be a man of few words when it comes to a specific genre in a film that isn’t in his interest. All he said was, “it was sad.” Later, we discussed the possibility of Brendan Fraser winning the best actor award at the Oscars. He thought Mr. Fraser deserved it because it takes a lot of talent to lead an entire film in an apartment. Woah. He’s right. After our conversation, I started to ponder the film more. The film was very raw and honest. Sometimes we choose to do things to torture ourselves. Sometimes as much as we want to say the right things to help someone, we can’t. Sometimes we plead for someone who would love to stop harming themselves, but we’re not the right person to be telling them. It’s not enough when it comes from certain people, but sometimes the right person can say the same thing, and it can make all the difference. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what we say when a person’s mind is already made up.