The Whale Review

As a parent, we always want to ensure that our children are going to be okay when we are no longer around. We want them to be good human beings and know that when we are gone they will continue being empathetic toward their fellow human. What would happen if we are not in our children’s lives? How will our children’s lives turn out if we were not there to be an example for them? These are some of the questions that are raised in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale. In this film, we see how one father tries to reestablish his relationship with his daughter and leave behind a good legacy.

One of the first things you will notice when you see The Whale is the format in which it is played. The movie was shot in a 4:3 ratio which gives you a closeness to the actor’s expressions that you would not get if it was shot in widescreen format. From the opening shot, you can tell that Darren Aronofsky is going to put you in Charlie’s apartment and put you in the center of everything. This format works for this movie. It really makes you feel like you are experiencing everything that Charlie and his daughter, Ellie, played by Sadie Sink, are experiencing.

The Whale tells the story of an English teacher named Charlie whose eating spiraled out of control after a traumatic incident. Due to his weight gain, Charlie secludes himself in his home and teaches virtually with his camera turned off all the time. Charlie’s friend, Liz, played by Hong Chau, takes care of Charlie. With Liz being a nurse she keeps tabs on Charlie’s health and is pretty much his only friend.

The friendship between Liz and Charlie gives us a look into the unconditional love that they have for each other. As the movie goes on we get to learn how this friendship started and their reliance on each other. Their friendship also brings up the question about where do we draw the line on being our friends’ enablers. Liz’s love for Charlie is a double-edged sword. She tries to seek ways to help Charlie in his situation but she also provides him the food that puts him in this situation.

Unaware of the situation he is in is Charlie’s daughter, Elle. Growing up only knowing half of the reason her father abandoned her, Elle has nothing but hate towards Charlie. She does not hide her feelings toward him and only when given a certain offer she decides to hang around with Charlie. Sadie Sink’s character is strong but also an outcast at her school. We see she uses this hard shell to keep people out but only lets them in when she wants to. She breaks down some of her guard with the character of Thomas, played by Ty Simpkins.

Again, as parents we try to make sure our children grow up to be good people and within the story of The Whale we see Charlie trying to be that parent for Elle. Charlie’s journey is one that many parents might be able to relate to. The weight that Charlie has can be an analogy for the weight that parents feel trying to do all they can for their children. We try to hide the pressure we have in making sure they are taken cared of but sometimes that weight is too much. Like Charlie, we try to hold on to that one thing that makes us remember why we do everything. We see what that one thing is for Charlie and this movie make us think about what that thing should be for us.

Final Thoughts: Everyone goes through grief in their own ways and The Whale shows us how one person deals with it after a traumatic incident. The Whale packs a lot of emotion in a single room and due to this, the actors shine in the environment. Brendan Fraser deserves all of the accolades that he is getting for this role.

Kid-Friendly: The story of wanting to leave a positive legacy is a story that kids should hear. There are a few images in the movie that are not suitable for younger children and there are a lot of bad words thrown around. I would suggest that parents watch the movie first and decide if their children should watch it.

Violence: There is no violence in the movie. There are scenes of rage with Charlie but nothing that is considered violent.

From Darren Aronofsky comes The Whale, the story of a reclusive English teacher who attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter. Starring Brendan Fraser and based on the acclaimed play by Samuel D. Hunter.

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