I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to watch The Whale. I had no idea what it was about, more than it had something to do with a morbidly obese man and Brandon Fraser was staring in it. The movie was a complete shot in the dark for me. It surprised me.
The movie opens in the most uncomfortable way you could imagine, a man watches an x-rated movie on his couch, pleasing himself. I contemplated stepping away from the movie, right there and then, but something told me to just hold out a bit longer. The atmosphere turned pretty swiftly. The man was close to dying, begging for help, just as a missionary passes his door. The dying man begs the missionary for help, in the compromising situation he is in. That’s when I knew that this movie was something different.
I’m not going to lie, there was many times during the beginning of the movie when I couldn’t bring myself to continue, but I did. It was seeing a man slowly kill himself that was hard to watch, so much so that you’re sitting with this uncomfortable feeling for a lot of the movie. It’s the uncomfortable feeling of seeing someone push towards their death and not even try to stop it. It’s seeing someone who was just about to die from a heartattack beg for a bucket of fried chicken just a few hours after. It’s just simply hard to watch but somehow I feel as though it’s something that needs to be watched. It’s a discussion of health, not just physical but mental, it’s a story of how truly broken a person can be.
It is only when you’re able to sit with that feeling for a bit that you truly see the movie for what it is. Yes, it is a tale of self-distruction, but, it is also trying to show you that a person is more than what they might look like. Yes, Charlie is slowly killing himself but he’s still more than what he looks like. He cares for his student and want them to express their truest opinion. He cares for his asstranged daughter, who at first seems to only to use him. He cares for the missionary who’s just a scared young man who just wants to go home.
It’s a story of pain but it’s also a story of humility, of expression and of love. If you just have the ability to sit through those uncomfortable moments, you’ll see a very real and a very real depiction of someone’s life that should mean a lot more than what he thinks it does.
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