How to Watch The Whale

brendan fraser, the whale
How to Watch The WhaleA24

Any time you sit down to watch a Darren Aronofksy movie, you know that you're about to go through it emotionally. From his profoundly bleak exploration of drug addiction in Requiem For A Dream to the psychological horror of Black Swan, he's become known as a master of surreal and disturbing cinema that often proves polarizing. His latest film, The Whale, is no exception.

Brendan Fraser stars as Charlie, a reclusive, obese professor whose main form of contact with the outside world is the online classes he teaches with his webcam off. The film centers on his attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Ellie (Stranger Things's Sadie Sink) amidst a health crisis.

Since its debut at the Venice Film Festival in September, The Whale has drawn both acclaim and controversy. Critics and awards bodies have been united in their praise for Fraser's performance, which is widely being tipped as a Best Actor frontrunner at this year's Oscars. But many commentators have also criticized the decision to cast Fraser (who wore a prosthetic fat suit) in the role, rather than an obese actor.

"Actors have been using makeup since the beginning of acting—that's one of their tools," Aronofsky told Yahoo! Entertainment in response to a question about that criticism. "The lengths we went to to portray the realism of the make-up has never been done before... People with obesity are generally written as bad guys or as punchlines. 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. Brendan Fraser is the right actor to play this role, and the film is an exercise in empathy."

Fraser has been nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award for his performance, as has Hong Chau, who plays Charlie's friend and caregiver Liz, and is nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category.

Where to stream The Whale:

The Whale isn't currently available on any streaming platforms. Despite an increasing number of Oscar contenders being made available for home viewing in the run-up to the ceremony, Aronofksy is a theater purist, and recently took to Instagram to urge audiences to buy tickets. "It WILL NOT be streaming anytime soon. so get out and #crytogether and #beinspired" he wrote.

So if you want to see The Whale ahead of this year's Oscars, where it's very likely to scoop up a Best Actor nomination at the very least, you'll have to head out to your local theater. It's been out in the U.S. since December 9, 2022, and will likely stay in at least some theaters through awards season.

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