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Whale Music

New!DVD available from amazon.ca

Review by The Wolfwalker

Based on Paul Quarrington's novel, the movie of the same name explores the redemption of a faded rock star through love and music.

Desmond, (played brilliantly by Maury Chaykin), mentally devastated by his brother's death and other emotional wounding, works to create music to summon the whales. Claire enters his life and slowly helps him back into reality.

That's really the movie in a nutshell.

Whale MusicOr so I thought during my first viewing. After humming and singing "Torque, torque the beast needs more torque," which is also the running theme throughout the movie, I slowly started to think it meant the power of Danny's (played by Paul Gross) sport car and the intensity of his life. All the flashbacks certainly showed he was burning bright and was certain to die young. But Danny's character sure doesn't need to give the beast more torque. He has already done that - and the results? He now resides in the ocean.

The beast that is being fed is Desmond's beast. Each time he almost gives up and abandons his quest, the beast prods him on. Paul Gross lip synching the song, 'Torque Torque' could work if you don't look too closely and you're not aware that he has a fine voice that was wasted. (However, a big thank you to the Rheostatics for such eerily haunting tunes.)

One morning Des awakes and finds a young girl sleeping on his couch, Claire. He makes his peace with her being there by writing and recording a song for her. Considering her finished business (she has moved herself in, cleaned up the house and more or less considers it hers) he gets back to his quest.

In the meantime, his ex-wife shows up wanting him to sell the house so she can collect back alimony. He hands her the tape of 'Claire' to pacify her, but soon she is back wanting more from him. You can almost feel sorry for her until you learn (later) why they are no longer together. She gives the tape to Desmond's manager (why he would still be clinging to Des is beyond me) who shows up wanting to know if he has more to give. The only person who really doesn't seem to want anything from Des is Claire (but she already has the house <smile>).

Des is a driven man long past the point of madness. He no longer sees the difference between his ex-wife, ex-band members, his agent, or his dead brother who keeps appearing to him more often than any of the others do.

Each time Danny shows up and you see a little more of him you start seeing that he wasn't just incredibly good looking but that he was flawed. In life you see Danny was a drinking, swearing, smoking, womanizing, drugged out Rock and Roll star who can't understand why his brother would be upset because he is rolling between the sheets with Desmond's wife. Danny wants to shrug it off but he knows he's hurt his brother deeply. Then goes out and does the most decent thing he has ever done in life, drives his car over the cliff (sorry), and wounds poor Des to the point that he may never recover. Guilt abounds from both of them.

The ending of Whale Music is very touching. Desmond hooking the large (understated) speakers up and facing them toward the ocean, him watching for the whales to come to him, Claire by his side (probably the only friend he has) and him telling her about how his brother died and why the music is so important to him. The music is there to summon the whales. He has unfinished business with them. He needs to ask them a question that he feels only they can answer. He wants to ask them how his brother is.

Whale Music is available on DVD from amazon.ca