Film Review: The Whale


Brent Northup

At the Myrna Loy & Cinemark

Darren Aronofsky is the anti-Disney director.

Instead of inviting us to slide our foot into the glass slipper and dance with the prince, Aronofsky turns off the lights, and shoves us into dark places.

“Requiem for a Dream” was an “agonizing and unflinchingly grim portrait of drug abuse.”

In “The Wrestler” he introduced us to a broken, flawed aging fighter, “a proud pugilist in search of redemption.”

And in “Black Swan” we took a hallucinatory trip into the life of a ballet dancer: “part horror, part thriller, part Freudian nightmare.”

Aronofsky challenges us to embrace the goodness in struggling people.

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“The Whale” is vintage Aronofsky.

We meet Charlie, an adjunct English writing teacher. He’s teaching online on Zoom, with his camera turned off to hide from his students.

He’s a morbidly obese man, with weight above 600 and blood pressure above 200.

His loving caretaker, Liz, implores Charlie to see a doctor. He refuses, resigned to fate.

Enter 17-year-old daughter Ellie, whom Charlie abandoned almost a decade

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