The Whale: Release Date, Cast, And More For Darren Aronofsky's New Movie Starring Brendan Fraser

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"The Whale" is a film I'm eying with a mix of interest and worry (but mostly worry for the time being, if I'm being honest). On the one hand, it's a showcase for Brendan Fraser, a beloved actor who came to fame in the 1990s before falling on hard times due to a variety of hardships both personal and professional in nature. Fraser is now in the middle of a well-deserved comeback, having garnered critical acclaim for his work in TV shows like "The Affair" and "Trust," as well as his turn in Steven Soderbergh's crime flick "No Sudden Move" and his ongoing role as the voice of the robotic superhero Cliff Steele in the series "Doom Patrol."

On the other hand, "The Whale" is a film where Fraser dons a fat suit in order to portray a 600-pound queer man. True, it's based on the 2012 play of the same name by Samuel D. Hunter — which won a GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Award in 2013 — and hales from director Darren Aronofsky of "Requiem for a Dream," "The Wrestler," and "Black Swan" fame. Even so, it's a movie whose very premise understandably raises a lot of red flags for members of both the LGBTQIA+ and fat communities when it comes to how it represents them. It certainly has a lot to prove, let's put it that way.

The Whale release date and where you can watch it

"The Whale" will bow at this year's Venice International Film Festival on Sunday, September 4, prior to hitting theaters three months later on December 9, 2022. The film is being backed by A24, which is clearly positioning "The Whale" to be its big contender in the next fall and winter movie awards season (it seems the studio isn't counting on "Everything Everywhere All at Once" getting the awards attention it deserves, then).

A24 announced it had picked up "The Whale" in January 2021, making it the first movie Aronofsky had directed since his polarizing horror film "mother!" came out in 2017. Shooting began two months later and was done by April 2021, with post-production getting underway right after. However, thanks to the backlog it had accumulated after delaying nearly all of its planned 2020 releases due to the pandemic (including "The Green Knight" and "Zola"), A24 decided to hold off on unveiling the drama until 2022.

What is The Whale about?

"The Whale" tells the story of Charlie, a reclusive, middle-aged, online English teacher living in a run-down rural apartment who has resorted to compulsive eating to deal with the guilt and pain he feels for abandoning his family years ago to live with his queer lover (who has since passed away). With his health fading, Charlie reaches out to his troubled 17-year-old daughter, Ellie, in the hopes of making amends and reconnecting with her before it's too late.

The single-location story (which takes place over five days in Charlie's life) was inspired by Samuel D. Hunter's real life. "I arrived at it through my own personal struggles with it, as I used to be a lot bigger," the playwright told Vanity Fair. Hunter added that "The Whale" is meant to be purely representative of his own personal experience:

"This is just my story — plenty of people out there are big and happy and healthy and just fine and worthy of respect. But I was self-medicating with food, and it was hard for me to live in the world as that person. I'd never seen that story precisely told."

The cast and crew of The Whale

As mentioned earlier, Darren Aronofsky is directing "The Whale" from Hunter's adapted script. The director touched on the parallels between the film and his previous work while talking to Vanity Fair, from its single setting (a trait it shares with "mother!") to having an actor in the process of making a comeback portray a character seeking to repair their relationship with their estranged daughter (just like "The Wrestler").

Sadie Sink is co-starring opposite Fraser as Charlie in "The Whale," playing his daughter, Ellie, in what promises to be another great turn to go with her powerful work as Max in "Stranger Things" season 4 earlier this year. Other cast members include Hong Chau of "Downsizing" and "Watchmen" fame as Charlie's caregiver Liz and Samantha Morton ("Minority Report," "The Walking Dead") in a small but pivotal role as Charlie's ex-wife and Ellie's mother Mary. Behind the camera, Aronofsky is joined by Matthew Libatique, who has been serving as his director of photography since his 1998 feature debut "Pi."