The first week of Venice 79 is about to go to the archives, but not before giving way to another big return to the Lido. After a long absence from the spotlight, Brendan Fraser was greatly applauded during the first screenings of The whale.
In the new movie Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, Black Swan, Mother!), the actor of The Mummy interpreter a man over 200 kg forced into the house. A literally weighty role, for which he wore a prosthetic suit that gave him a completely different perspective on the physicality of the body. During the press conference presenting the film in competition, he said: “I had to learn an absolutely new way of moving. I built muscles I didn’t know I had and felt dizzy at the end of the day when they took off my costume. It made me appreciate those who have such a body: you have to be very strong physically and mentally”.
It all starts from a theatrical performance of 2012 with the same title written by Samuel D. Hunter, also screenwriter of the film. “I remember reading the review in the New York Times – said director Aronofsky – And having thought that I liked it a lot, I wanted to make a film of it because it moved me a lot“. Yet it took years, especially to find the right interpreter for Charlie, a literature teacher who gives online lessons to his students by always keeping the webcam switched off: “It was difficult for several reasons. No one particularly struck me […] Then I saw the trailer for a little Brazilian movie with Brendan and the light bulb went onrevealed the director.
The whale was taken down just after the first period containment of Covid-19, thanks also to its very intimate productive character: an apartment, 5 actors and a powerful story. No feeling of claustrophobia though, despite choosing 4:3 as the video format: “It all depends on how you move the camera, but also on the depth of the scenario, how you discover more and more characters, they reveal themselves little by little and each scene has something.“.
“This is the story of what happens behind a closed door”- adds the protagonist Brendan Fraser – It was the biggest challenge for me, Charlie is the most heroic man I’ve ever played. He has a super power: he sees the good in people“. This theme is the real “message” of the film, which shuns all cynicism to embrace a hopelessly optimistic vision of life and humanity: “There is cynicism, but it constantly grapples with Charlie’s hope and worldview. The phrase “people are really incapable of not caring about others” is the reason why I made the filmAronofsky clarified, responding to a question from us. He then added: “This is the most important message to convey to the world at this time. Everyone turns to cynicism and obscurity, but what we have to understand is that we have to believe in others. We gotta hang on to this“.
Of The whale the importance of literature is also striking, starting with the title which recalls the famous Moby-Dick of Herman Melville. A role, that of writing, is also central for the screenwriter: “I taught writing and begged my students to write something true and honest: I received wonderful things. […] I wanted to write a story about an English teacher trying to connect with people, and then it became a father and daughter story, but literature has always been an important component from the beginning“.
Playing the girl is Sadie sinkthe maximum of stranger things. “When she sees him again after years, she doesn’t even recognize him. He vilified him. She has a lot to say, but she doesn’t expect anyone to like her that much. He is not expecting a father“. In the few scenes available, a complex and evolving relationship has been traced: “Each scene is a battle, she wants to be right and wrong together. For someone like Charlie, seeing that there is good in Ellie is wonderful.“.
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