The Whale: Darren Aronofsky’s chamber piece doesn’t hide its stage origins, but due to the protagonist’s nature, that never feels unjustified. It is, nevertheless, a bit claustrophobic, further accentuated by the director of photography Matthew Libatique’s use of (nearly) the Academy aspect ratio. The protagonist is a gentle soul in a lot of pain, enough to keep him a recluse and abandon all semblance of a healthy life; his actions, however, are influenced by his views of one supporting character that hardly come across. Maybe the problem is with the acting of Sadie Sink, who plays his moody, nasty estranged daughter, but what comes from the page does not justify his faith and therefore his actions. Brendan Fraser plays the recluse teacher beautifully; the impressive make-up work (by Adrien Morot, Judy Chin, and Annemarie Bradley) pulls a lot of weight (pun intended), but that doesn’t take anything away from the touching, humane, painful performance. Hong Chau is likewise very touching as his protective caretaker and best friend. Not a wholly pleasurable experience, but the performances make it worthier.