The Whale

Normally movies aren’t supposed to make you cry because they are fictitious. Any tragedy that we see isn’t real and is well crafted by dummies and good music but some come along to make an exception. Despite being a “beautiful fraud” we somehow resonate with the pain that a character goes through even when we are separated by facts, frames, and different life situations. This is because we all experience the same human emotions and feel similar nausea to use Sartre’s lingo.
Naturally, we all seek comfort to lessen either the damp reality or imagined anguish in many ways. One finds it on the cross, and some find it in drugs. Of course, there are many paths to it. People overwork, overindulge in entertainment, and so on and so forth. However, Charlie, the English teacher here tries to hide his pain of the death of his boyfriend, and downhill relationship with his daughter by eating pizza, chocolates, and Moby dick’s essay.

At first, we rush to judge him. Who hasn’t got problems anyway? we blame Charlie for his congestive heart failure, wheezing, and blood pressure of 238 over 134. Adding to this, Charlie doesn’t want to go to hospitals, or therapy and puts in practically no effort to come out of the mess he is in. The man wants to die.

But as the film picks pace, we understand his agony. Losing love and coming back to normalcy or pretending that death is natural for all sapiens might be easy for some of us but not for all. Here’s where the universality stops and the individuality of a crisis comes up. The objective judgements, solutions, and psychological evaluations we offer might not be the answer for all. The hard truth of not being saved either by religion or replacement-addictions ultimately just invokes deep empathy and a few tears. No intelligence to offer but perhaps a love that can transcend cinematic walls.

In the same movie, his daughter develops anger because her father abandoned her when she was 8 as a defense mechanism. This shows the sad state of kids who get abandoned or thrown into foster homes when their parents get divorced. The adults seek love yet they plant the seeds of hate in the home they left. Kids pay the ultimate price.

In one scene, the pizza delivery guy sees the fat body of Charlie and runs away without saying a word. May be judged, or maybe not. Art ultimately depends on your interpretation but the reaction of Charlie is hard to watch. The stress/fear/sorrow eating shows how we cope with difficult emotions. This portrays how each of us channelize our insecurities and fears in our own different and separate ways.

The sofa existence of Charlie however showcases how beautiful one’s own soul is with his sweet voice and sense of hope despite the outer layers of flabby fat. And the friend’s role is exactly how it is supposed to be. No pep talks but changing sheets of the sofa, bathroom tissues, food in the kitchen, and sitting beside him to watch dumb t.v.
Opening ears and heart but not the head to add more weight to the problems.

Lastly when Charlie tells his students to do some honest writing and throws away the laptop, metaphorically he indicates to us to live authentically, free of falsities that either we create or handed to us by society. He points to the simple fact of what writing is: an effort made to be yourself one last time when the whole world doesn’t let you be.

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