Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale is a strange and shadowed study of self-imposed confinement. Brendan Fraser’s Charlie is a suffering sad sack, all right. I felt for the poor bloated guy, but what a tragedy. What a ghastly, grotesque experiment in plumbing the depths of regret and self-loathing, not to mention the drip-drip process of slow suicide.

Charlie’s choking-on-a-sandwich scene is one for the ages; ditto his eating binge + vomiting scene. Ditto his sweat-soaked, white-light death scene (i.e., my favorite moment in the film). James Whale and Todd Browning would be impressed; so would Montgomery Clift.

Obviously an intelligent filmed play, and mildly pleasurable for that. Fraser’s performance is a whopping, tearful freak show, but I felt the heart of it. And I was moved by that final gasp (partly a cry of release) when he finally goes to God. And yes, I’m proud that I got through it. I‘ve been terrified of watching this film for months, and now I’m past that hurdle. And I’ll never have to watch it again.