Decoding ‘The Whale’: A Profound Look into Brendan Fraser’s Charlie
Embarking on a cinematic journey, “The Whale” presents us with an unforgettable character in Charlie, portrayed masterfully by Brendan Fraser. His life, brimming with struggles, fractured relationships, and a battle with morbid obesity, forms the crux of the narrative, inviting viewers to empathize and understand his multifaceted existence.
Unveiling the Past: Who Is Charlie?
Charlie’s story is steeped in layers of complexities. Once a family man with a wife, Mary, and a daughter, Ellie, Charlie upended his life when he acknowledged his homosexuality and fell for Alan. This confession led to the disintegration of his family, leaving a chasm between him and Ellie, a wound that never quite healed. However, tragedy struck when Alan, wracked with guilt over his sexuality, ended his life. This propelled Charlie into a self-destructive binge-eating cycle, resulting in severe morbid obesity and looming congestive heart failure.
“Alan’s tragic demise became a catalyst for Charlie’s destructive behaviors, trapping him in a cycle of binge-eating and isolation, leading to severe morbid obesity and a threatening prognosis of congestive heart failure.”
The Deteriorating Present
Ironically, Charlie uses his money to lure his estranged daughter to visit him instead of investing it in his health. Ellie, who harbors deep-seated resentment against him for abandoning her, often resorts to derogatory and homophobic remarks. Further, she takes advantage of his frail state, drugging him to gain control of his living space. This string of events and his failing health propels Charlie towards a bleak reality.
A Downward Spiral
As Charlie’s health dips further, he faces an emotional storm. In his online classes, he reveals his true appearance to his students while urging them to express their genuine selves in their writing. The backlash from this decision leads to a breakdown, and he breaks his laptop in frustration. Amidst this turmoil, Liz, his only friend and caregiver, returns to his side, offering solace in his distressing life.
“His health dwindling, Charlie is met with an unexpected backlash in his online lecturer classes after pushing his students towards greater authenticity in their writing. This confrontation leads to a poignant moment where he breaks his laptop in a bid to advocate for honesty.”
The Culmination: The Final Reckoning
The narrative reaches its zenith in a heartrending interaction between Ellie and Charlie. As Ellie reads aloud an essay she penned years ago, Charlie makes an overwhelming effort to walk towards her unassisted. The strain leads to his collapse, hinting at his death. The film concludes with a poignant flashback to a time of familial bliss on a beach.
Charlie’s Fate: A Journey’s End?
Given the narrative’s trajectory and Charlie’s debilitating health, it seems clear that Charlie meets his end. His fate aligns with the original play “The Whale” by Samuel D Hunter, which inspired the film. Hunter elaborated in an interview with The Los Angeles Times that the finale transcends realism, focusing instead on Charlie’s earnest connection with Ellie.
“The culmination isn’t about reality but the authentic connection Charlie establishes with Ellie. This ultimate connection symbolizes his life’s purpose, triggering a sense of ascension, literally and metaphorically.”
Remembering the Past: A Retrospective Gaze
The final flashback, depicting Charlie’s family vacation, introduces an alternate reality: a path that Charlie could have tread, a life of domestic bliss devoid of the anguish that marred his existence. It serves as a poignant reminder of the choices and lives affected.