Darren Aronofsky sees ‘The Whale’ as an ‘exercise in empathy’

Why The Whale Is Controversial, Despite Brendan Fraser's Comeback

The Brendan Fraser-hype train seems to be catching steam, with an upcoming project with Martin Scorsese. However, his latest movie with director Darren Aronofsky The Whale seems to be catching some heat on the internet over its “fatphobic content”

Why The Whale Is Controversial, Despite Brendan Fraser's Comeback

The movie, which premiered to multiple minutes-long applause at both the Venice Film Festival and Toronto Film Festival, is slowly drawing criticism over the portrayal of Fraser’s character. For context, here’s the official synopsis of the movie reads, “A reclusive English teacher suffering from severe obesity attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption.”

Fraser plays the role of a depressed, 600-pound man, for which the actor donned a fat suit, sparking some backlash. The criticism seems to have stemmed from Film critic, Katie Rife’s tweet, who advised both plus-sized and thin-framed viewers to skip the Darren Aronofsky film.


Darren Aronofsky is known for directing dark, provocative, divisive films such as “Requiem for a Dream” and “Black Swan,” but in “The Whale,” he sees hope, “human connection and a belief in the human spirit.”

In this episode of “The Envelope,” Aronofsky reflects on how “The Whale” interacts with obesity and fatphobia, discusses exploring humanity through science, and describes why the “Brenaissance” — star Brendan Fraser’s triumphant return to acting — caught him by surprise.

However, the film has been denounced by many critics for its handling of the subject matter, with some deeming the film fatphobic.

In an interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, Aronofsky said that he didn’t anticipate the backlash when first casting Fraser.

Actors have been using makeup since the beginning of acting – that’s one of their tools,” the filmmaker said. “And the lengths we went to portray the realism of the make-up has never been done before.

“One of my first calls after casting Brendan was to my makeup artist, Adrien Morot. I asked him, ‘Can we do something that’s realistic?’ Because if it’s going to look like a joke, then we shouldn’t do it.”

Aronofsky is best known as the director of films including Black SwanThe Wrestler and Requiem for a Dream.

People with obesity are generally written as bad guys or as punchlines,” Aronofsky continued. “We wanted to create a fully worked-out character who has bad parts about him and good parts about him; Charlie is very selfish, but he’s also full of love and is seeking forgiveness. So [the controversy] makes no sense to me.

Empathy and controversy follow 'The Whale' - Los Angeles Times

“Brendan Fraser is the right actor to play this role, and the film is an exercise in empathy.”

This week, it was announced that Fraser had been nominated for a Golden Globe for his role in the film, despite stating that he would not attend the ceremony.

The Whale is out now in the US, and is set to be released in UK cinemas on 3 February 2023.


Priyanka Sharma

Priyanka Sharma is the content editor at mjglobalreport.com with over 3 years of experience in journalism, Priyanka delivers fresh and accurate news on the cannabis industry to her readers. Her versatility as a writer and editor is showcased in her work. When she's not busy writing and editing, Priyanka can be found exploring new travel destinations and indulging in her love for food.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *