The Whale: A Reunion of Father-Daughter

The director, Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream & Black Swan) has brought a stage-play (by Samuel D. Hunter) to the big screen. The aspect ratio of 1.33 makes it appear as an art house film. The Whale is a story of repentance and sorrow of a morbidly obese teacher.
(Note: Spoilers ahead.)

The Whale (2022)
Genres: Drama, Stage-play
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, Hong Chau

The Whale A24 Aesthetic Film Poster
Image: A24 Films

Charlie (Brendan Fraser) is barely mobile, but his nurse friend Liz (Hong Chau) takes care of Charlie's health and household. Charlie teaches online for a living. The film is shot in Charlie's apartment because he never gets out as if he has caged himself.

When we take a look at the history of Charlie's life, we learn that he has abandoned his daughter and wife to be with his lover. But Charlie's lover commits suicide later. Since then, Charlie has cut off all contact with the rest of the world, to cope with his sadness he eats.

This film captures the last week of Charlie's life. Just as Charlie learns, he has only a few days left. He tries to reconnect with his seventeen-year-old daughter after nearly nine years. Charlie wants to make sure his daughter has a decent life after his death.

I'll share my perception about different characters of The Whale. This may differ from one viewer to another.

Charlie
Charlie has made some selfish decisions in his life. Undoubtedly, he regrets that he could not spend life with his family. It seems like he is still stuck in his past and unable to forgive himself.

He lied to Liz about the money. You're not allowed to betray your friend because you love your daughter, your only caring friend who is looking after you when no one else is there for you.

He could have used the money for his treatment, but he felt that instead of saving himself, he should save that money for his daughter's future as if he had lost interest in living, just waiting for death. Perhaps he must have thought that if he used that money for his treatment, then he would have nothing left to offer to his daughter.

Ellie
Ellie (Sadie Sink) isn't as good as Charlie thinks. Charlie takes her every action positively, probably because he met his daughter after a long time. Although I don't blame her for her behaviour, her parents are responsible for that. Her father left her with her alcoholic mother when she was just eight years old.

Throughout the film I felt that Ellie doesn't really care about her father, she is only after money. But at the end she showed some hope that she could be a good person. She never got the love she deserved.

Liz
I think her character is the least selfish in the film. She must be regretting that she could not help her brother. Maybe she was helping Charlie to express her love for her late brother. Do you think Liz was really helping Charlie? I think she was spoiling him by offering junk food. However, Charlie wouldn't have made this far without her.

Charlie failed as a husband, as a father and as a friend. Mary (Samantha Morton), on the other hand, failed as a mother. Liz failed as a supportive sister. All the characters in The Whale are saddening. Everyone is not a good person nor a bad person. The situation was the result of the choices they took and the decisions they made.

This film gives a glimpse of eating disorder and sheds light on the daily struggle of a morbidly obese person. Brendan Fraser's exceptional performance makes it remarkable.

The Whale (2020): Official Trailer

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