- October 28, 2022

Austin Film Festival Opens With Emotional Screening of The Whale


The Austin Film Festival kicked off on Thursday with a screening of The Whale. Unfortunately, star Brendan Fraser did not make an appearance but writer Samuel D. Hunter and Director Darren Aronofsky were in attendance.

The Whale tells the story of a reclusive English teacher living with severe obesity who attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption. To take on the leading role of 600-pound Charlie, Fraser reportedly did gain some pounds. However, he donned a prosthetic suit for the majority of the weight and was aided by a small amount of CGI. The facial expressions are all Fraser though and the sadness and emotional struggle he emotes through those expressions alone is heartbreaking.

The film has received many standing ovations around the world, including six minutes of praise at the Venice Film Festival. Even the audience in London got to their feet, which is no easy task. We asked Aronofsky about that on the red carpet before the screening.

“London was great because they don’t do standing ovations,” the Oscar nominated director said. “It was pretty funny to see a bunch of British people up on their feet, so I was really excited by that.”

Darren Aronofsky and Samuel D. Hunter

Hunter spoke of the positive reception to the film as well, telling us that Venice was the first time he saw this film in front of an audience.

“It’s been really surreal,” the writer said. “I love what Darren and Brendan have done dearly but you just never know how people are gonna catch it and it was so gratifying to see people go on the ride.”

He concluded by saying that with Fraser’s performance, it’s not that hard to go on the ride.

Surprisingly, the film did not receive a standing O at the festival. Perhaps that’s due to Fraser not being in attendance. Though his spirit most definitely was, larger than life on screen.

A24 Films is scheduled to release The Whale on December 9, 2022.

The Austin Film Festival runs through Thursday, November 3.