The Brendan Fraser renaissance has definitely begun, if not quite the way we all would've wanted. Fraser, the beloved star of '90s films like "Encino Man," "George of the Jungle," and "The Mummy," has been steadily making a comeback after going through hard times in both his personal and professional lives in the 2000s. Building on his well-received work in TV series like "Trust" and "The Affair" (on top of a small role in Steven Soderbergh's "No Sudden Move," which has an exquisitely amoral Fraser channeling Orson Welles in "Touch of Evil"), the actor now finds himself among the front-runners for this year's Best Actor Oscar prize thanks to his role in Darren Aronofsky's new film, "The Whale."

This is where things get tricky. Written by Samuel D. Hunter and adapted from his 2012 stage play of the same name (the winner of the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, among other honors), "The Whale" sees Fraser donning a fat suit — a controversial practice in and of itself that has come under greater scrutiny of late — to play Charlie, a 600-pound reclusive professor who teaches English literature online from his dingy apartment in Idaho. With his health rapidly starting to fade, Charlie reaches out to his estranged teen daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink) in the hopes of reconnecting with her while he's still alive.

Watch The Trailer For The Whale

As this new trailer highlights, critics have been showering praise on Brendan Fraser's performance in "The Whale" left and right. /Film's own Chris Evangelista called it "the best performance the actor has ever given, and a reminder of what we've been missing during Fraser's acting pause." At the same time, Chris was much colder on the rest of the film, describing it as a "pale, and often cruel, imitation" of Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler" — a film that was also about a lonely dying man trying to rekindle ties with his daughter — that fancies itself as being far more empathetic to its lead character than it actually is.

Indeed, that's a pretty common refrain among reviews for "The Whale," which have been (perhaps unsurprisingly) rather polarizing so far. It's not that anyone doubts Fraser's sincerity when he talks about not wanting to play Charlie's obesity as a cheap joke and the great care he took to provide better representation for the fat community and real people living in bodies that have long been exploited by the movie and TV industry for juvenile comedy. But whether that's the case for the rest of the film around him, well, that really depends on who you ask.

"The Whale" is now playing in select theaters. It will expand nationwide on December 21, 2022.

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