Mexico City.- “Man is the wolf to man” is a phrase attributed to Thomas Hobbes. In “Leviathan”, the philosopher stresses the need for a strong government to exercise control or else humans will fall prey to their own vices and passions.
And this weekend came a film that epitomizes governance and impulsivity: La Ballena.
Charlie (BRENDAN FRASER) teaches classes via Zoom at the local university. When he talks about reading and writing, his students listen indifferently. And it is that this teacher keeps his camera off. the reason? Charlie is morbidly obese and never leaves his house.
Darren Aronofsky’s film starts off with a bang: The first scene that terrifies us. As this filmmaker usually does, there’s no subtlety, but it works: We’re barely breathing, just like the protagonist, but it manages to hold our attention.
What follows is character development and her home environment: her friend/nurse, a young missionary (Ty Simpkins), and Charlie’s estranged daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink) played impeccably by Hong Chow.
Everything is fertile ground that nurtures the complexity of human relationships: expectations and loss of self-esteem.
And this is where Aronofsky’s most distinctive aspect comes into play: self-destruction. The ability to attack us, to subdue us. Contempt for oneself can be infinite.
It goes into a kind of fogging autopilot, with several scenes that are hard to swallow. But we can’t help but acknowledge Fraser’s incredible physical performance, who looks to be the real deal in this cycle of humiliation. It also feels personal.
Above all, it is the performances that make this claustrophobic film worth watching. Charlie eats Charlie (real and figurative). But there is a redemption arc, which gives it a vital intent.