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The Whale Review. Five years later mother!Darren Aronofsky returned to the Lido with The Whalean intense chamber drama that marks Brendan Fraser’s auteur cinema debut.

In the last twenty years of the Festival’s history, or perhaps ever, mother! by Darren Aronofsky had been one of the most controversial films brought to the Lido. Produced by Netflix and accompanied by an ensemble cast led by Jennifer Lawrence, mother! he had equally divided audiences and critics between those who praised the masterpiece and those who accused it instead of being a solipsistic allegorical game. Five years of directorial silence on Aronofsky’s part have passed since then. The Whalepresented at the Lido and now also passed to the review The big festivals of the ANEC between Rome and Naples, interrupts this hiatus in Aronofsky’s career with a work that is undoubtedly more convincing, less divisive and, without renouncing a rich array of allusions and cultured references, even more communicative.

The Whale not only marks the return of Darren Aronofsky: the film also brings back to the big screen, for the first time in a dramatic role, Brendan Fraser, an absolute star in the early 2000s thanks to franchise how The Mummy, long out of the picture due to complicated personal events. With The Whale, Aronofsky plays the role of a middle-aged professor, perhaps the most obese man in film history, who, years after divorcing his wife over a homosexual affair with a student of his, aware of his imminent death from the heart failure caused by obesity, tries all the cards to find the relationship with his teenage daughter. If Brendan Fraser gives us an Oscar-winning interpretation, the “second” role is entrusted to Sadie Sink, already known to the general public with the series Stranger Things. Accompanied by a few other performers and characters in an apt choice of casting, the two actors, directed by Aronofsky, carry one of the most convincing chamber dramas of recent years on their shoulders. The system is clearly theatrical, the film is based on one pièce by Hunter, yet The Whale maintains its specific film. Accomplices of this co-belonging are the numerous shots from outside the house, those in which all the events take place, and the dialogues that, in the film, occasionally allow one to detach oneself from the interior of the private environment in an overview.

On one side, The Whale Productively speaking, marks a return to origins for Aronofsky: his first two works, π – The delusional theorem and the famous Requiem for a Dreamwere typical independent films of the period between the two centuries, then from The Fountain forward the director had collaborated with the most important major and Hollywood stars, the latest is the Netflix pairing – Jennifer Lawrence for mother!. Probably, wishing to reinvent himself after the controversial reception of the latter film, however The Whale Aronofsky collaborated with A24, the most famous American company indie of distribution and production, at least among those that arose in the last decade. On the other hand, despite the difference in budget and of setting, The Whale in many ways it looks like an intimate reinterpretation of The Wrestler, especially as in both films, here Brendan Fraser and there Mickey Rourke, two forgotten old stars were brought back to the big screen in surprising and unusual roles. The direction is certainly very calibrated, as is the photography by Matthew Libatique. The result is a film that shapes a remarkable emotional flow, moving and cathartic in the finale, with very dense dialogues that manage to insert the multiple references to the Moby Dick by Hermann Melville and several other works of English literature. If in Aronofsky’s most recent career, Noah it had perhaps been an excessive concession to the cliche of the blockbuster Hollywood and mother! an umbilical retreat in the author’s most classic themes and images, not without surprising flashes but uselessly confused in his poly-allegorical construction, Aronofsky finds with The Whale an almost perfect thematic and emotional balance, with a protagonist in status of grace.

Title: The Whale
Movie director: Darren Aronofsky
Film script: Samuel D. Hunter
Main actors: Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, Ty Simpkins, Samantha Morton
Scenography: Mark Friedberg, Robert Pyzocha
Photography: Matthew Libatique
Assembly: Andrew Weisblum
Costumes: Danny Glicker
Production: A24, Protozoa Pictures
Distribution: I Wonder Pictures
Duration: 117 ‘
Genre: dramatic
Exit: December 9, 2022

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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