'The Whale'--New Brendan Fraser Film

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Donna

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This looks interesting, but also worrisome and problematic.

Fraser's role in The Whale has him playing a 600 lb recluse trying to reconnect with his 17 year old daughter. In the articles I've read, he says the costuming was cumbersome and extensive. He's being very tight lipped about the film itself, though. Fraser's career has been lacking in recent years, which he has been very candid about, but this film is supposed to be his big comeback. Interesting.

I know many are going to complain that a 600 lb (or close to it) actor wasn't hired to fill the role. I'm one of those people. The idea of putting an actor, even an actor whose already sporting a fat body, into a fat suit to make them larger instead of hiring an actor whose actually the size the role calls for is anathema to me. But in this instance I'm torn because I know how good Brendan Fraser is and I have a lot of faith he will bring a humanity to this role. Problematic.

As with any film whose main character is very fat, this is going to get the fat haters up on their soapboxes. I can practically read the op ed pieces now. I already know of at least three people in my life, all of whom know how much I adore Fraser, are going to be burning up my phone, using this movie as an excuse to yet again discuss their concerns for my size and "health". Not to mention the discussions on the morning talk and entertainment shows. Worrisome.

Silver lining: the hoopla surrounding this will mean more Brendan Fraser on my computer, tv, and movie screens. I just love him and I hope this does help to bring him back to super star status.
brendan-frase-the-whale-1280x720.jpg
 

kyle

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Hope it works for him. Always been a fan: Encino Man, School Ties, (talk about juxtaposition - right -shows the range)

You're right though ... Haters gonna Hate
 

GordoNegro

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I remember C. Metz in an ET interview stating that "American Horror Story" did not think she was big enough (for the role), thus having her wear a fat suit. Whether "The Whale" is made to be a sympathetic figure who is unable to make changes to get closer to his teen daughter or unwilling to make changes as its easier to stay in his comfort zone, sensing it will be a bitter pill for some to swallow either way. I do hope B. Fraser rebounds as I enjoyed "The Mummy" movies except for the last with Jet-Li.
 

Frogman

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I know many are going to complain that a 600 lb (or close to it) actor wasn't hired to fill the role. I'm one of those people. The idea of putting an actor, even an actor whose already sporting a fat body, into a fat suit to make them larger instead of hiring an actor whose actually the size the role calls for is anathema to me. But in this instance I'm torn because I know how good Brendan Fraser is and I have a lot of faith he will bring a humanity to this role. Problematic.
It looks like the character is seen at (radically) different weights, so it would’ve been impractical to cast a ~600 lb actor in such a role. But I agree that Fraser and Darren Aronofsky, the director, are an intriguing pairing and that ultimately the humanity will shine through; (see: The Wrestler).
 

Donna

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Read this article today. As much as I love Brendan Fraser no matter what size he is or portrayed to be, I've got some of the same concerns that are talked about in the latter part of this NPR article. Has anyone seen it yet? If so, your thoughts??
 

agouderia

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"The Whale" has just been screened at the Venice Film Festival so has not yet reached movie theaters.

In such cases, my go-to source of information is always Rotten Tomatoes which gives a good overview of all critical reviews with direct links to all of them.
The Whale

Since I'm also extremely interested in this movie, I had early on also looked into it.

Regarding the NPR stance - it has become a Hollywood standard gimmick for actors & actresses to either re-launch their career or move up into the realm of "serious" acting by taking on a role that either goes counter-type (think unattractive Charlize Theron) or portrays a character in existential crisis (alcoholism, drug addiction, psychosis, etc.).

That's what I actually filed Brendan Fraser playing this lead character under. And he seems to have done a stellar job because many critics write that he holds the movie together and makes it at all worthwhile to watch with his superb acting.

It is not so much the movie itself with its portrayal of extreme obesity that is the problem. Any similarly honest not glossed over movie with for instance an alcoholic will also show the ugly and dehumanizing sides like vomiting all over the place, etc.

The problem is that no critic would dare describe an alcoholic or drug addict character in such a degrading manner as is common with fat people.
Fat is the last physical and personal characteristic one can openly discriminate against and dehumanize without being called out for it - that's what I find devastating.
 

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Donna, is there a highly talented real-life 600# actor? I don't think there is. I saw a clip of him and the director receiving a standing ovation at a European Film Festival. Brendan was probably close to 300# so he wasn't exactly totally pretending to be fat.

I have to wonder why 600# was chosen as the weight. Did the TV program, "My 600 lb Life," have something to do with it? I'm not sure such an extreme portrayal of obesity is good or even realistic. I doubt that the problems such a person would have were accurately or fully portrayed. I don't mean to say there aren't 600# people, and they shouldn't be portrayed, I am just saying that this extremism I think is detrimental to all fat people.

I am worried I hear comments like, "you've got a ways to go to get to his size," or "keep eating like that and you'll get to play the whale's brother," or something along those lines.

I think a 400 or 500 lb portrayal should have been sufficient. Does anyone else have that kind of take on it too? Does 600# set some new standard for fatness or portray fatness as being extreme and absurd? Will everyone that is over 300# be deemed morbidly obese and classed as an outcast?

As a 400ish lb guy sorry if I am seeming a bit sensitive.
 

agouderia

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@SSBHM - the movie "The Whale" is the screen-adaptation of the eponymous 2012 play by Samuel D. Hunter which features a 600-pound protagonist. No idea though whether there is any connection to the TV show that also went on air in 2012.

As already mentioned, imo the underlying theme of the play/film is that of a character in existential crisis - and for that I do find a 600-lb protagonist convincing and realistic. Because that is a weight level where serious difficulties can arise with regards to participating in numerous aspects of daily life for many people.

I would actually argue that it is a positive that it was not 400-pound range character who was developed because portraying that weight as such an inibiting factor would be totally unrealisitic. Like German Chancellor Kohl was a 400-pounder for over half of his 16 years in office - and had no problem even charging at protesters in anger.
In today's public anti-fat discourse, it is common to depict even 250-pounders as being on immediate weight-related death row - so having a more realistic premise in my book is on the positive side.
 

Donna

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Agreed, @agouderia

They could've easily made him 200, 300, or 400 pounds, because most people, even some of us who are very fat ourselves, don't have a concept what that much additional weight looks like on a human body. Obviously it differs from person to person with height, sex, and build variables, but even just in a general sense, at 410 pounds I look at people whose weight is listed far higher than my own and would judge them in the same weight range as I am.

The pictures I've seen of Brendan in the full prosthetic and with the CGI applied to make him 600 pounds looks no larger to me than any of the SSBHM I know who weigh about the same as me.

That said, I went looking for information regarding the play the movie is based on and found this review. (Warning, there are major spoilers in the review.) By the time the movie version comes out for rent or purchase via streaming, I am going to end up analyzing it to death and the movie itself may be a let down to me. It's giving me a lot more to think about than my original concerns.
 

cinnamitch

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I’m ok with it. It could be far worse. He has received high praise for his portrayal, even getting a six or eight minute standing ovation. This made him very emotional. He has had a difficult career and not that long ago he was almost never chosen for acting roles. Yes we are the last disability that people find ok to shame. Change has to start somewhere. I mean within my lifetime it was ok to make roles demeaning those who didn’t fit the “norm”. Maybe one day we will be looked at as equals in entertainment. Until then, I would much rather take my chances that someone like Brendan will bring us the positive attention instead of people being so quick to make fun of fatty
 

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