Religion often rears its heavy head in the works of controversial writer and director Darren Aronofsky; from Mickey Rourke’s martyrdom in The Wrestler, an Eden allegory in mother!, and of course his epic adaptation of Noah. The biblical overtones return in his latest effort The Whale, which is based upon Samuel D. Hunter’s 2012 play of the same name. Brendan Fraser stars as Charlie, a morbidly obese English literature teacher who has become housebound due to his condition. He receives regular visits from his nurse Liz (Hong Chau), estranged teenage daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink), and Thomas (Ty Simpkins), a young missionary of the local New Life Church.Continue reading “Film review: The Whale”
It’s commonplace for viewers to adopt a passive approach at the cinema, but a filmmaker that continually challenges audiences and encourages debate is Darren Aronofsky, known for bringing his dark directorial visions to the big screen. With his latest psychological thriller mother!, he has crafted what has become one of the most talked-about movies of the year. The story follows a couple played by Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem who appear to enjoy marital bliss in an idyllic rural house that they are renovating. Their peace is shattered when a doctor (Ed Harris) and his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) come to stay unexpectedly and bring mayhem which rudely interrupts the couple’s sense of tranquility.
Projects which bring biblical stories to the big screen are often shrouded in controversy and Noah has expectedly followed suit. Is there room for creative licence when adapting chapters from the Old Testament? Is it possible to please everyone or are you guaranteed to cause offence? Luckily, the director at the helm is visionary risk-taker Darren Aronofsky, best known for his surreal style in films such as Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream. He makes this epic far more than a dull lesson in religious education but his auteurism is marred by the boundaries of the subject matter. In case anyone is unfamiliar with the story, Noah (Russell Crowe) is a strong family man who receives a spiritual message from God, or The Creator as he is referred to throughout the film. He assumes the responsibility to build an ark to survive an almighty flood, preserve the planet and save it from human destruction. The slant on this version is that there is a villain of the piece Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone), who wants to kill Noah and have the ark for himself and his army.