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15th Sep 2022

Reviewer’s warning that ‘fat people’ should avoid The Whale has worried fans

Tobi Akingbade

The early reviews are in

Brendan Fraser’s upcoming performance in The Whale should be avoided by both “skinny people” and “fat people” according to one movie critic who’s online review has been met with divided opinion. It has got the people talking.

Many movie critics have been celebrating a “Brenaissance,” the coined phrase for the return of Fraser to mainstream movies and TV.

In The Whale, Fraser stars as a man living with severe obesity who struggles to reconnect with his 17-year-old daughter, played by Stranger Things star Sadie Sink.

Brendan Fraser gets emotional

His appearance in Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming psychological drama is expected to be an awards season talking point, but it might not be liked by everyone. Fraser was awarded the Performance Award at the Toronto Film Festival on Sunday night.

Entertainment journalist Katie Rife posted a warning for viewers online which has sparked a lot debate.

“I can’t recommend in good conscience that fat people watch The Whale,” wrote Rife on Sunday after watching it at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.

She added: “I can’t recommend that skinny people watch it either, since it reinforces the notion that fat people are objects of pity who have brought their suffering upon themselves through lack of coping skills.”

Rife cited a list of “red flags for [eating disorders] and fat phobia” within the script, which reminded her of her own personal struggles.

The writer also pointed out that there is a scene, which made audiences laugh, where the main character drops a key and can’t pick it up.

It’s not all doom and gloom though as the critic does praise Fraser for his performance, saying that the “humanity, sensitivity and sympathy” within the movie comes from him.

On Monday, Rife shared further thoughts on The Whale as the debate she started almost ignited a fire on Reddit

“I wish The Whale had just owned its cruelty. I would have respected it more if it had. As it is, giving audiences the cheap satisfaction that they’re good people for shedding a few tears for a fat guy is beneath contempt in my mind,” she concluded.

This take, and other critics who panned the film in reviews, sparked debate online.

“I was so afraid of that,” wrote one user in response. “As a person who has struggled with her weight, binge eating, shame eating and fat abuse all my life I’m just not sure I can emotionally handle a film like this. Even for Brendan Fraser.”

Another user added: “As a diehard Aronofsky fan, this is definitely a bummer.”

However, some movie fans refused to agree with Rife – despite the film not being out yet.

A Redditor wrote: “I’m not gonna let fat people ruin Brendan Fraser’s moment. I knew the discourse around this movie was going to be cringe. Aronofsky doesn’t miss though.’

Fraser became a household name in the 90s with hits like George of the Jungle and The Mummy franchise, but  relinquished his leading man status in the 2010s.

The Whale marks a huge comeback for Fraser, who hasn’t had a starring role in  a film since 2013’s Breakout.

The movie is based on the play of the same name by Samuel D Hunter, who adapted the stage script into Aronofsky’s feature.

To play the lead character, Fraser wore a prosthetic suit that added anywhere from 50 to 300 pounds given the scene, spending up to six hours a day in the makeup chair to transform each day.

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