One of the most discussed and awaited films of the last Venice Film Festival is the protagonist of the weekend in theaters: we are talking about “The Whale”, the new work by Darren Aronofsky starring Brendan Fraser.
The actor plays a lonely teacher, suffering from a serious form of obesity, who, in the last days of his life, tries to reconnect with his teenage daughter, with whom he has lost contact.
Based on a play by Samuel D. Hunter, also screenwriter of the film, “The Whale” is a film shot entirely within the domestic walls of the protagonist’s apartment: punctuated by chapters that represent the various days of the week, the feature film recounts the attempts of redemption of a man at the end of his existence.Since his first films – “Pi greek – The theorem of delirium” and “Requiem for a Dream” – Aronofsky has always been a controversial director with a decidedly personal touch often connected to a very strong dose of symbolism, as also confirmed by his later works such as “The Black Swan” or “Madre!”. “The Whale” takes up many allegorical ideas (starting from the initial title, with explicit references to Melville and the challenge between man and nature), mixed with a strong dose of realism that can refer to one of his best films ever, “The Wrestler” with Mickey Rourke.
Rhetorical excesses and moments of great charm
“The Whale” is a real emotional swing, a film capable of touching very deep chords but also of falling in some moments, when rhetorical excesses take the upper hand. Thanks to several passages of strong intensity, the film still manages to excite, although the too schematic structure and some not entirely convincing side characters partially limit the involvement. Very interesting is the work done by the director on the subject of the character’s body, always represented with the right attention and perfectly framed within a house that serves as a veritable prison for his soul.
Amazing performance by Brendan Fraser, in the best role of his career: the actor was deservedly nominated for an Oscar for best protagonist, but for the statuette he will have to overcome the competition from Austin Butler for “Elvis” and Colin Farrell for “The Spirits of ‘island”.
Among the novelties of the weekend there is also “The Offering”, a horror film directed by Oliver Parker. At the center of the story is Arthur, a man full of debts, who returns to his native home after a long time, together with his wife Claire , who is pregnant. His intentions would be to reconcile with his father Saul and to try to manipulate him in the hope of being able to pay off these debts: the man would like to convince the parent, with whom he has been in conflict for years, to sell the family funeral home – reserved for a Jewish community – and to be given the money from the sale. No one imagines that Arthur’s bad intentions will awaken an evil spirit who lives right in the basement of the family’s funeral home and haunts the corpses. Film of a disconcerting banality, “The Offering” is a product that never manages to amaze and that closely resembles many other similar feature films. The cultural context of reference fails to become a matrix of interest and the result is a product poor in ideas and totally unable to create the entertainment he would like.