Brendan Fraser stars in the role of a lifetime in “The Whale,” a movie about cruelty, hate and redemption that won’t endear itself to everyone.

The experience of the latest Darren Aronofsky film is much, much more than its metaphors. It’s also much more than watching an actor in a fat suit.

It’s a movie that is meant to make audiences squirm in discomfort.

Brendan Fraser in “The Whale”

Aronofsky is not known for his feel-good films. His tortured characters, such as those in “Black Swan,” “Requiem for a Dream” and “The Wrestler,” serve up bleak, if not grim, stories, and so does “The Whale.”

Fraser is Charlie, a 600-pound English teacher who is quite ill, and who is so ashamed of himself he tells his online students the camera on his laptop doesn’t work.

Liz (Hong Chau,) Charlie’s friend and caregiver, always is close at hand. She’s worried about Charlie’s increasing health problems. Charlie wants to connect with his estranged daughter (Sadie Sink,) but she is vicious and cruel to her father … and to just about everyone else, too.

There are metaphors galore here that include references to characters in “Moby Dick” and the novel itself. As more is revealed about Charlie’s past, we realize just how broken he is. Filled with shame and guilt, Charlie is paralyzed in more ways than one.

Because Charlie is unable to move around much, most of the film is set in his living room, so this is a dialogue-driven character study of not just Charlie, but also the other people in his world. Like many of Aronofsky’s other films, this one isn’t always easy to watch.

But if you’re already an Aronofsky fan, or if you enjoy character studies, watch some of the best performances of 2022 to see why Fraser, who will break your heart, deserves an Oscar.

3 ½ stars

Running time: Just a couple of minutes shy of two hours.

Rated: R for foul language, nudity and other adult material.

Watch the trailer here.