In the spotlight at the Venice International Film Festival is Brendan Fraser.
The once-omnipresent movie star of the “Mummy” series and “George of the Jungle” had retreated from the spotlight over the past ten years. Fraser, though, is planning what may turn out to be a significant return, beginning with his pivotal performance in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale,” which had its world debut at the festival on Sunday night.
In the Sala Grande theatre, the audience gave the movie a prolonged standing ovation as Fraser, his director, and his co-stars wiped away tears from the balcony.
Fraser portrays Charlie, a 600-pound recluse English teacher with a kind heart. Although experts are already expecting Oscar nominations for the movie, Fraser is making an effort to ignore the possibility.
Prior to the movie’s debut, Fraser commented, “I’m just trying to stay in today.”
For over ten years, Aronofsky has been attempting to produce “The Whale.” He clearly recalls reading the review of Samuel D. Hunter’s play in The New York Times, seeing it, and then knowing he wanted to see the author.
He noticed one statement in particular: “People are incapable of not caring.” He said that’s why he had to create the movie.
However, casting posed a problem.
Aronofsky said that the reason it took him 10 years to complete the film was because it took him that long to find the right actors. “Charlie’s casting was really difficult.
I gave everyone a thought. All of the world’s movie stars. But nothing really made sense. I wasn’t moved by it. The feeling wasn’t right.”
A lightbulb “went off” for him when, a few years ago, he saw the trailer for “a low-budget Brazilian movie” starring Fraser.
Fraser, who also appears in Martin Scorsese’s next movie “Killers of the Flower Moon” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, said that he knows of “no actor in my social group worth his weight in salt who wouldn’t want to work with Darren.”
Additionally, Fraser said, “Charlie is by far the most heroic guy I have ever portrayed.” His superpower is his ability to see the good in people and help them express it.
Prosthetics were employed to convert Fraser into Charlie, who seldom leaves his sofa.
“I had to learn how to move completely differently. I gained muscles I was unaware I had.
When all the equipment were taken out at the end of the day, I even experienced dizziness similar to what you may experience when getting off a boat in Venice “said Fraser.
“It made me more appreciative of those with comparable physique. I discovered that to occupy that body, a person must be very physically and emotionally powerful.”
In addition to being physically appealing, Charlie also has a deep sense of compassion and empathy for everyone around him, including his estranged daughter Ellie, who is portrayed by “Stranger Things” actress Sadie Sink.
“She enters with a lot to say because she has a lot to say. But I believe that what she does not anticipate is a person who really cares for her “said Sink. Ellie is “thrown for a loop” by Charlie’s realisation of Ellie’s redeeming qualities.
The screenplay’s co-author, Hunter, said that his play is very personal. When he was teaching a required expository writing course at Rutgers University that nobody wanted to take and that everyone despised, he created it 12 years ago.
By placing the play in his birthplace of Moscow, Idaho, and included details on his past of depression, food self-medication, and attending a fundamentalist Christian high school as a homosexual teenager, he also drew on his own background.
He said, “I was terrified to write it. “I wanted (Charlie) to be a beacon in the midst of a terrible, dark sea,” the author said. “I felt the only way I can accomplish it is if I wrote it from a deeply position of love and empathy.”
Because it was so constrained, “The Whale” was Aronofsky’s favourite sort of challenge.
He had long since learnt from the 1998 film “Pi” that limitations are “your entrance to freedom.” He barely had $20,000 and a dream for the movie. He was confined to a home in “Mother!” In “The Whale,” it’s also a character that doesn’t travel around much, not simply a single flat.
He spoke extensively with cinematographer Matthew Libatique about “how to transfer theatre into film” and “how to make that interesting and thrilling.”
Their bond dates back to their time at the American Film Institute in 1990. Aronofsky expressed his relief at discovering the rough cut’s lack of claustrophobia.
Fraser said, “The movie is “a motion picture. a decent movie.”
Aronofsky often travels to Venice, where he launched “Black Swan” and “The Fountain” as well as “The Wrestler,” which won the Golden Lion in 2008. The event is like home, he said.
This year, too, Aronofsky and his cast members could be prepared to walk away with awards. The festival’s official competition, which will be judged on September 10 by a panel chaired by Julianne Moore, includes “The Whale.” On December 9, A24 intends to distribute it in cinemas. But he’s primarily simply delighted to be back with his first feature since 2017’s “Mother!”
“So many of us have suffered so much loss over the last several years. Human connection is at the heart of film. It’s about having the opportunity to put yourself in another person’s shoes and experience empathy for two hours.
That is just what the world needs, in my opinion. Simply put, I’m glad to be back “said Aronofsky. “I believe it’s a tremendous time for film,” she said.