I love the director in The Whale, I love the main actor and supporting actors. I love the quality of the overall movie. But I did not like the writing. I wasn’t sure if it was just me that found it stilted and awkward, but nope. The internet is full of people giving credit to Brendan Fraser’s performance but wondering why the writing is so ham-fisted. It turns out the reason is simple: it’s adapted from a play, and the movie tried to stay true to the original screenplay.
As a result you get one set, with Brandan Fraser occupying the centre of it and various characters coming in with tick-tock regularity to opine about the world in long, unrealistic monologues. If I had seen this setup at my local theatre, it would make sense. But seeing it in a movie, a medium that benefits from realism and realised worlds outside the walls of a set, feels off.
So congratulations to Brendan Fraser and everyone for doing the best they could with the inelegant material. It’s a good movie. But it was a better play.