Since its announcement, The Whale has been a film that has garnered as much awards buzz as it has criticism.
Directed by Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem For A Dream) and adapted from an award-winning play by Samuel D. Hunter, the film is about a 600-pound gay man named Charlie who lives an isolated life at home, and attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughter years after the death of her mother.
On one hand, the film stars Brendan Fraser as Charlie in a performance that’s earning him the best reviews of his career. With roles in nostalgic favorites like George Of The Jungle and The Mummy series (not to mention an early, awards-worthy breakthrough in Gods And Monsters), he’s a beloved actor who never really got his due, making him especially easy to root for.
On the other hand, well—where to begin? Fraser underwent a radical transformation for The Whale, but it’s one that includes donning a “fat suit” and has raised questions about the entertainment industry’s continued reliance on makeup and prosthetics, versus actually casting bigger actors.
There have also been criticisms of the way Aronofsky’s film portrays Charlie’s story in a voyeuristic manner—how it might be framing his size as a horrific spectacle—and how it seems to link the character’s binge-eating behavior to his shame around being gay.
Between the casting and controversial subject matter, a number of critics has spoken out against The Whale, including Guy Branum, who labeled it “problematic,” and Daniel Franzese, who said the film is indicative of both the country’s fatphobia and homophobia.
Still, for all the conversation it’s started, The Whale has only played at a few select film festivals, and the general public has yet to see anything from the film aside from one early press photo—until now.
Indie studio A24 has shared the first official trailer for The Whale, and it’s minute-long clip that goes all in on mood and emotion, only providing a few quick glimpses at Fraser’s celebrated yet contentious performance (plus, even quicker glimpses of co-stars Sadie Sink and Hong Chau). It seems the strategy they’re going for is: Let’s make people wait to see the full movie and judge for themselves.
Well, the wait shouldn’t be too much longer, as The Whale opens in theaters beginning December 3. You can watch the brief trailer below: