Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale” doesn’t have a trailer yet, but the overwhelming response to star Brendan Fraser, following a screening of the psychological drama at the Venice International Film Festival, is better promotion than any sizzle reel could buy.
In a pair of videos posted to Twitter by Ramin Setoodeh (co-editor in chief of Variety), the cast and top creative team behind the upcoming tearjerker can be seen reacting to a six-minute standing ovation after the film’s premiere on Sunday. Per Setoodeh, Fraser “sobbed” throughout the celebration and “tried to leave” but was forced to stay thanks to the raucous applause.
Fraser’s “The Mummy Returns” co-star Dwayne Johnson re-tweeted the clip, writing: “Man this makes me so happy to see this beautiful ovation for Brendan. He supported me coming into his ‘The Mummy Returns’ franchise for my first ever role, which kicked off my Hollywood career. Rooting for all your success brother and congrats to my bud Darren Aronofsky.”
Based on Samuel D. Hunter’s play of the same name, “The Whale” stars Fraser as Charlie, a 600-pound gay man who is confined to a wheelchair. Sadie Sink plays Charlie’s estranged 17-year-old daughter Ellie. Hong Chau appears as Charlie’s nurse and best friend. Ty Simpkins, Samantha Morton, and Sathya Sridharan round out the cast.
“Adapting my play into a screenplay has been a real labor of love for me,” Hunter previously told Deadline. “This story is deeply personal, and I’m very thankful it will have the chance to reach a wider audience. I’ve been a fan of Darren’s ever since I saw ‘Requiem for a Dream’ when I was a college freshman writing my first plays, and I’m so grateful that he’s bringing his singular talent and vision to this film.”
“For Fraser, ‘The Whale’ is a confident leap forward into the movie-star status that he rightfully deserves,” writes Leila Latif in her review for IndieWire, recalling the emotional tenor of the Italian theater where Fraser welled up.
Latif continues: “For the normally more muted Venice audience who typically scramble for the exit the moment the film ends, just the sight of Fraser’s name at the end credits made the crowd turn back to the screen to cheer and applaud the actor’s triumphant return. If that rapturous applause carries on throughout awards season, that may prove the most wonderful and moving moment of this whale’s journey.”
“The Whale” hits theaters December 9.
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