This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
purkka’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
imagine being in THE WHALE's online class and he turns his camera on and you see that it was brendan fraser in a fatsuit the whole time
Total garbage. Directed with no style or subtlety, scripted clumsily with many scenes of characters expositing their backstories at each other, and has about as much to say about its subject matter as Garfield.
"Misery porn" feels like an inaccurate descriptor in the sense that the word porn implies the material is made for someone's enjoyment, but there is no other word for the way the film wallows in its heavy-handed tragedy. The soundtrack underscores every moment to a comical degree; you can tell Charlie eating himself to death is bad because sad music plays when he does so. I also want to know who came up with the scene in which he checks the granola bar drawer and looks sad and then checks the candy drawer and smiles. Sorry Mr. THE WHALE but why would you even have that drawer
The character work is so weak. There is nothing to anyone's life or personality beyond what makes the plot run, and being this mechanically constructed makes the film's sentimentality feel artificial. Charlie only wants to see her estranged daughter because he is dying, and she doesn't have any actual reason to want to be here – the fact that the script has to keep pulling more and more contrivances out of its ass to keep them interacting with each other is pretty telling. The thing with the money is just embarrassing. Love watching a movie about characters getting paid to hang out with each other
Even the performances reflect this fundamental issue. Hong Chau is the only one to escape unscathed, probably because she gets all the funny moments and her character at least feels like a person who is voluntarily involved in the movie's events. Everyone else is just doing emotionally hollow cry/scream/whisper Oscarbait prestige drama acting that does nothing to elevate the terrible screenplay. Sadie Sink is especially bad, but even Brendan himself is pretty unimpressive, more of a technically competent transformation than genuine success at embodying a character.
I did see a clip of the ending before watching the movie, but I'm still kind of surprised that it was real. Surely there was a better way to visualize that idea, not that it's a good idea in the first place. Also, is it just me, or is it kind of weird that THE WHALE sees his ex-wife and daughter in heaven instead of his boyfriend? Wasn't that relationship supposed to be the emotional centerpiece of all this as the inciting incident to Charlie's problems? I would maybe not do that if I was making a movie about a queer character for whom queerness only exists as tragic backstory (and getting a heart attack while masturbating to gay porn, I guess).
Not to mention that it's pretty funny to see Ellie and Mary in heaven with him when they were still alive moments earlier. Maybe the ending looked like that in order to let us know THE WHALE actually exploded in a huge burst of light, killing everyone in the apartment complex
also the essay isn't even good. it's like one of those fake "a child says something accidentally profound" things you see on twitter. if the emotional ending of your movie is going to involve a guy dying while someone reads an essay, please come up with a better essay