Brendan Fraser resurfaces in Venice as “The Whale”

Venice (Italy).- Brendan Fraser, one of the most popular actors in the late 90s, suffered painful ups and downs throughout his career but this Sunday he lived a day to remember in the venice festivalapplauded for his role as a morbidly obese looking for salvation under the command of Darren Aronofsky in “The Whale”.

“I’m just trying to hold on today (…) Thank you for this wonderful reception, I hope this movie makes the same deep impression it made on me,” the American actor visibly excited at the film’s presentation.

“The Whale”, based on the play of the same name by Samuel D. Hunter, is the story of Charlie, an English teacher who, after the death of his boyfriend, begins to eat junk food in an attempt to anesthetize his pain.

His life goes by with his 586 pounds of flesh and bone stranded on the sofa, connected to the inhospitable outside world only by the classes he teaches from his computer, while death looms on the horizon at the pain of his clogged veins and his weakened heart.

However, Charlie harbors one last wish: to rebuild his relationship with his teenage daughter, Ellie (Sadie Sink), from whom he separated when he left home to start a relationship with a man.

In this way, the house in which they live cloistered becomes the scene of an exciting dramatic duel with the girl in an attempt to find salvation before the end.

Aronofski maintains a special relationship with Venice: it was at this festival that he premiered his most acclaimed film, “Black Swan” (2010), won the Golden Lion for “The Fighter” (2008) and now returns with “The Whale” for five years. after “Mother!” (2017).

That is why he did not hide his emotion: “I am excited to return. In recent years we have lost too much due to the separation of human connection and cinema is about that, about having something to share and two hours of empathy, which is exactly what the world needs, ”she pointed out.

The filmmaker read a review of the theatrical version in the press ten years ago, the story moved him “deeply and that is why he proposed to its author to make it a film, achieving his approval, although the pandemic delayed the project.

He chose Fraser after seeing him by chance in the trailer of a low-budget Brazilian movie and in 2020 they began shooting with all the precautions, since the plot takes place in a single location -the house- and has only five characters.

The result is a tender story of redemption, a warning against prejudice, for which Fraser, at 53, has had to work hard to achieve a disturbing appearance, thanks also to the prosthetic belly weighing 287 pounds.

“I had to learn to move in a new way, I developed muscles that I didn’t know I had, I felt dizzy at the end of the day when they removed my prosthesis due to an undulating sensation like when you get off a gondola in Venice,” he recalled.

But Charlie, the “most interesting” character of his career, is actually “a ray of light in a dark place.”

The American actor, one of the most popular of the last 90s for roles such as “George of the Jungle” or the trilogy “The Mummy”knows well what abandonment and pain mean as an emblem of the “broken toys” of the industry.

And it is that his golden youth preceded an abrupt decline that began with a series of injuries caused by the acrobatics of that parody Tarzan who refused to resort to doubles and that, in the end, forced him to go to the hospital and park his race.

Then, in 2017, would come his painful divorce from his wife, Afton Smith, as well as the depression due to the sexual harassment he suffered, as he would publicly denounce, by the former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) Philip Berk.

Now Fraser, with the inevitable changes that come with age, at 53, walks the red carpet of one of the most important film festivals on the planet.

At the moment, his name is already in the pools for a prize in Venice and there are those who see him at the Oscars, although he prefers not to jump into predictions: “My crystal ball broke and I don’t know what will happen in the future,” he cut off. to questions from the press.

What seems certain is that the character of this candid “whale” in search of redemption will be remembered in his career but also in that of Aronofski who, accustomed to expressing traumas on the skin of his characters, like that black swan, now leaves a clear message of optimism.

Because as Charlie alleges at one point in the film, “it is impossible that there is someone incapable of love. People are amazing.”

Gonzalo Sanchez / EFE

Brendan Fraser resurfaces in Venice as “The Whale”