The Whale - Ellie’s Essay

the essay from the whale movie

From the script…

“In the amazing book Moby Dick by the author Herman Melville, the author recounts his story of being at sea. In the first part of his book, the author, calling himself Ishmael, is in a small sea-side town and he is sharing a bed with a man named Queequeg...”

“…and I felt saddest of all when I read the boring chapters that were only descriptions of whales, because I knew that the author was just trying to save us from his own sad story, just for a little while.”

You’re a lifesaver! Thanks so much!

“And I felt saddest of all when I read the boring chapters that were only descriptions of whales, because I knew that the author was just trying to save us from his own sad story, just for a little while.” CHARLIE takes one last step toward ELLIE, his eyes on hers the entire time. The waves reach their loudest level. For the first time, ELLIE smiles at CHARLIE. ELLIE (CONT’D) “This book made me think about my own life, and then it made me feel glad for my--” CHARLIE looks up. The waves cut off. 108.

A sharp intake of breath. BLACK. A long silence. Then: END CREDITS

I have a copy of the script I can share, but I figured this is what you were looking for. I desperately wanted to know the last words of the essay, but it cuts off. Glad for my WHAT

Thank you this is the part that reminded me most of new avatar.

I felt the saddest of all when I watched the boring chapters about the boy and the whale because I knew James Cameron was trying to save us from his own sad story.

I’d love a copy of script if you could.

Anyway you could send that script homie?

Hey can I have a copy of the script too?


Glad for my truth

Hey could you send the script to me? I’d appreciate it!

I think 14 yr old Ellie made the realization she was glad her dad left at that point in their lives. That was her honest truth, whether she accepted/understood it or not. To me it explains why he kept it, why the mom gave it, and why he didn’t try to be in her life more. She connects it back to “author trying to save us from his own sad story”.

…and I felt saddest of all when I read the boring chapters that were only descriptions of whales, because I knew that the author was just trying to save us from his own sad story, just for a little while.

Hey if you still have access to the script I would love to read it too. Thanks for sharing that part tho!

I need to know also, "truth" just doesn't hit the bullseye for me, but maybe honesty? Hence why he kept telling people to write something honest? Still not sure . . .

Glad for my own situation

"You say that Walt Whitman wrote Song for My self " "Yeah." "It's called Song of Myself." "My title's better."

Hello, may I kindly ask that you send the script to me, please? There's a link to it at the bottom of the page, but it is not functioning.

This is definitely a spoiler LOL

Is that the whole essay? Need to know the ending.

In the amazing book Moby Dick by the author Herman Melville, the author recounts his story of being at sea. In the first part of his book, the author, calling himself Ishmael, is in a small sea-side town and he is sharing a bed with a man named Queequeg. The author and Queequeg go to church and later set out on a ship captained by the pirate named Ahab, who is missing a leg, and very much wants to kill the whale which is named Moby Dick, and which is white. In the course of the book, the pirate Ahab encounters many hardships. His entire life is set around trying to kill a certain whale. I think this is sad because this whale doesn’t have any emotions, and doesn’t know how bad Ahab wants to kill him. He’s just a poor big animal. And I feel bad for Ahab as well, because he thinks that his life will be better if he can kill this whale, but in reality it won’t help him at all. I was very saddened by this book, and I felt many emotions for the characters. And I felt saddest of all when I read the boring chapters that were only descriptions of whales, because I knew that the author was just trying to save us from his own sad story, just for a little while. This book made me think about my own life, and then it made me feel glad for my--

This seems more like the ending of the movie...except the pirate stuff...but I can't remember things well

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The ‘cathartic release’ of ‘The Whale’ explained by the play’s actors and directors

Four actors playing the obese main character in "The Whale" onstage

The following contains spoilers from the movie “The Whale,” now playing in theaters.

The movie version of “The Whale” ends with a breath, a bright light and a beach. The last visual shows the sun shining, the tide rising and falling, and a younger, slimmer version of the lead character, Charlie, staring out into the ocean as his daughter plays in the sand behind him.

If the serene seaside scene confused you, you’re not alone: That final flashback was a surprise to playwright and screenwriter Samuel D. Hunter, as director Darren Aronofsky tacked it on without discussing it with him. But the ending’s overall effect echoes the final moment of its source material, which actors and directors who’ve staged the popular play consider to be a release that, when performed, feels communal and generally satisfying for the audience in the room.

“The way it’s structured, this play is designed to slowly and repeatedly turn up the pressure until it almost can’t be tolerated,” said Davis McCallum, who directed a 2012 off-Broadway staging at Playwrights Horizons. “And then it has this really cathartic release at the end of the piece — a blackout, a sound effect, and a moment where the audience just lived in that silent darkness together.”

Both the play and the movie “The Whale” center on Charlie (Brendan Fraser), a reclusive, morbidly obese instructor of online writing classes who has been eating himself to death since the passing of his lover, a casualty of religious homophobia.

An obese man wearing a button-up shirt sits in a dark room

Review: Does Brendan Fraser give a great performance in ‘The Whale’? It’s complicated.

Darren Aronofsky’s intimate chamber drama, adapted by Samuel D. Hunter from his own play, navigates a tricky line between empathy and exploitation.

The character is an amalgamation of Hunter’s past lives: as a closeted gay kid attending a fundamentalist Christian school in rural Idaho, a depressed adult who silently self-medicated with food, and an expository writing instructor for college freshmen (the piece’s heartbreakingly honest line “I think I need to accept that my life isn’t going to be very exciting” is an actual submission from one of Hunter’s students).

Throughout “The Whale,” Charlie is visited by his estranged and troubled daughter, Ellie (Sadie Sink) , and his frustrated ex-wife, Mary (Samantha Morton), both of whom Charlie abandoned when he ended his marriage and came out as gay; Liz (Hong Chau) , a conflicted caregiver who is also the sibling of Charlie’s late lover; and Thomas (Ty Simpkins), a fundamentalist missionary who is far from home. Hunter doesn’t shy away from any of the issues the characters are dealing with “but doesn’t bury you in [them] either,” said Martin Benson, who directed a 2013 staging at South Coast Repertory. “He’s not advocating anything, he’s just writing what he believes is true.”

These characters and their concerns are similar to those in Hunter’s other plays, which tackle subjects “fundamental to Greek tragedy: the limitation of humanity’s vision, the place of religion in society and the desperate longing for relief from the lonely uncertainty of life,” wrote Times critic Charles McNulty when Hunter received the MacArthur “genius” grant in 2014. “He proceeds not with a moral point but through observation of the way his characters either defend their bunkered existences or attempt to reach beyond them — or more commonly, some combination of the two.”

An actor in shirt and tie talks to an obese man seated on a couch in a play.

Throughout the intimate live piece — which is staged without the escape of an intermission — all five characters reveal truths to each other and the audience that raise the stakes of their potential bonds.

“These deeply flawed characters actually care about each other so much, but there are so many obstacles for them to express that love or connect with one another in real ways, however desperately or destructively,” said Joanie Schultz, who directed a 2013 production at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater. “So when some of them finally do, it’s gorgeous and almost magical.”

Numerous stagings of “The Whale” accentuate the pressure-cooker effect by designing Charlie’s living room, where the entirety of the play unfolds, with an extra sense of claustrophobia or isolation. For example, the 2014 Bay Area run raised the Marin Theatre Company stage by four feet and angled Charlie’s ceiling so that, from the audience’s perspective, the character appeared to “dominate the space in a way that intimidated the people who visited him,” said director Jasson Minadakis.

Likewise, the off-Broadway version strategically lit the space “so that it felt as if his room were hovering in this dark void,” said director McCallum; the Chicago staging positioned the proscenium “like an island in the sea, which was really effective because they’re all alone on their own islands in some ways, with all these barriers to connection,” said director Schultz.

A woman kneels next to an obese man who has on his face tubing providing oxygen in a play.

Darren Aronofsky on ‘The Whale,’ fatphobia and empathy

Director Darren Aronofsky dives deep on “The Whale,” fatphobia, human connection and how he feels about Brendan Fraser and Sadie Sink.

Within these confined spaces, the actors who played Charlie — each wearing body suits weighing anywhere from 30 to 100 pounds — charted his arc physically and emotionally. As he attempts to nudge daughter Ellie toward a place of authentic self-expression, he too reveals himself to his students. The intention is that, by the time Charlie shares that he’s giving his life savings to Ellie, and endures great pain to stand up and walk toward her as she reads her “Moby-Dick” essay aloud to him, the audience would feel the overwhelming fulfillment Charlie gets during his final breath in the play.

“Every night, it was a journey, and it wasn’t easy to watch or to perform,” recalled Tom Alan Robbins, who starred in the 2012 world premiere in Denver. “His goal is self-destructive, but you want the audience to understand what has driven him to do this, and that his redemption is in the relationship he tries to forge with his daughter. You want that last second to be a combination of incredible pain and incredible triumph because, however briefly it is that they connect, it’s still an achievement for him.”

“Ellie says terrible, devastating things to Charlie throughout the whole thing, but he loves her so much that it doesn’t even hurt him,” said Matthew Arkin, who played Charlie at South Coast Repertory. “So in that final moment, whatever flaws he had, whatever mistakes he made and in whatever ways he couldn’t love himself enough, he lived a life redeemed, because he gave everything to save his daughter.”

Whether Charlie dies at the end of “The Whale” is up for debate. As written in Hunter’s script, the stage directions of that breath simply read, “A sharp intake of breath. The lights snap to black.” Many theater makers say that breath could very well be his last inhale, after which he is finally freed from the pains of his body, his loneliness, his grief. “The love and connection that Charlie gives Ellie is a gift, and hopefully she will remain true to her voice and herself in a way that he gave up on,” said Hal Brooks, who directed the Denver premiere.

It also could be considered in a metaphorical way, mimicking “how whales immerse themselves for so long underwater and then they finally come up to the surface,” said Schultz, or “a deep intake of breath before diving in somewhere they’ve never gone before,” said Shuler Hensley, who played Charlie in the New York run as well as a London staging in 2018. “It’s a brilliant ending, because audience members have constantly told me they couldn’t breathe afterwards. They didn’t know what to do, whether to applaud or get up or move because they’ve become so connected to Charlie.”

A young woman sitting on a couch near an obese man sitting on a desk in a play.

When asked about the ending, Hunter didn’t clarify Charlie’s status because, he said, it’s not necessarily relevant. “The final moments of this play and this movie abandon realism a little bit, and it’s no longer about this guy in this apartment,” he explained. “What matters is that he’s connected with Ellie, he’s done the thing that he’s been trying to do throughout this entire play, and that connection feels real and genuine. There’s this apotheosis that happens, and in the film, Charlie literally ascends off the ground.”

Though Hunter didn’t write the beach scene that follows Charlie’s onscreen ascension, he called it “marvelous” and shared an interpretation of what it might mean: “If it’s a flashback to the last time Charlie went swimming in the ocean, close to when the family fell apart, what I see in that shot is a man staring down the abyss of self-actualization, contemplating the decision he has to make about the different avenues he can take.

“Maybe he was thinking about what would happen if he stayed in that marriage: Ellie would have grown up with a closeted father, [his lover] Alan would have been miserable and, as Liz points out, would have probably died way before he did when he was with Charlie,” Hunter continued. “Choosing to stay or leave, both paths are complicated and tragic in their own ways, but ultimately, I think Charlie took the more hopeful route, and chose to look for the salvation one can find through human connection.”

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the essay from the whale movie

Ashley Lee is a staff reporter at the Los Angeles Times, where she writes about theater, movies, television and the bustling intersection of the stage and the screen. An alum of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Critics Institute and Poynter’s Power of Diverse Voices, she leads workshops on arts journalism at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. She was previously a New York-based editor at the Hollywood Reporter and has written for the Washington Post, Backstage and American Theatre, among others. She is currently working remotely alongside her dog, Oliver.

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Screen Rant

The whale ending explained (in detail).

The Whale, starring Brendan Fraser, ends in a devastating way. Here we break down the film's ending, and the layers behind its many themes.

Warning: This post contains major spoilers for The Whale The Whale ending explained that it is often hard to reconcile who you are with what you wished you could have been. The movie has Brendan Fraser in an Oscar and Golden Globe nominated role, as a teacher who battles with an eating disorder that has left him at over 600 pounds and on the verge of death. All he wants in life is to reconcile with his daughter and possibly help her, knowing she has a hard life of her own. However, where the movie leads, is not crystal clear to all viewers.

The Whale’s ending is devastating as it sees the end of Charlie’s life. He’s tried reconnecting with his daughter Ellie (played in The Whale cast by Sadie Sink) , and he did everything he could to make progress throughout the film. However, this was always one-sided, and in the end, he refused to give up on his daughter and tried to give her the one thing she asked for the first time she appeared in the movie. This all led to The Whale ending where Charlie finally seemed to die and pass on to the other side, but did he really get the end that he deserved with his daughter?

Related: The Whale Confirms Sadie Sink Is Stranger Things' True Breakout Star

Why Charlie Kept The Moby Dick Essay For So Long

In The Whale , based on the stage play , Charlie read from a Moby Dick essay. The Whale ending explained that the essay was written by Ellie, and he considered it the most honest piece of writing he ever read. Charlie was constantly frustrated with the students he taught online because they would give him generic responses or write what they thought would please him enough to get a good grade. Ellie’s essay had an opinion and a strong perspective that conveyed how she felt about the novel and Captain Ahab. Charlie held that close to his heart because it was honest in a way he or his students never were.

What Happened With Ellie In The Whale?

Ellie was cruel to Charlie throughout The Whale , a movie accused of fatphobia . The first time she appeared in the movie, she told him that he disgusted her, regardless of his appearance, and said if he loved her, he would walk to her without assistance, which she knew he couldn't do, and he sadly fell, breaking his side table. She kept returning because he promised to write an essay for school for her and offered her all his money, which totaled over $120,000 since he never spent money on anything but food and rent.

W hen Charlie's ex-wife Mary showed up to talk to him about their daughter, Eliie's dark and cruel side appeared again. Mary ( The Walking Dead's Samantha Morton ) and Charlie divorced when Charlie left them for a student named Alan. Mary severed Charlie's contact with Ellie and wanted to raise her on her own which didn't work out well. When Mary lashed into Charlie at the end, she admitted that Ellie had turned into a "monster" and was cruel to her fellow students and others. This was also shown when Ellie drugged her father and took photos of him to share online.

Ellie was still working through her problems at The Whale’s end. Ellie refused to reconnect with her dad, even at the end, but she did one thing that might be a glimmer of hope. At the end of The Whale , Brendan Fraser's Charlie saw the end. He asked her, before she left for the last time, to read her poem to him again. Ellie read the Moby Dick poem and Charlie rose and attempted to walk like at the beginning. It was full circle, as he wanted her poem to be the last thing he heard before he died. When he rose to walk, he floated into the white sky, and it seemed he died. With Ellie reading to him as he died, there is hope she could finally see in herself what Charlie did all those years.

Related: Blast From The Past Is Brendan Fraser’s Most Important Role (Not The Whale)

How Did Thomas Affect Charlie In The Whale?

One character that played a minor role in Charlie's final days was the missionary, Thomas ( Harley from the MCU ). As The Whale ending explained, he wasn't really a missionary anymore at all and was lying. He had lapsed in his faith, stole money from his youth group, and ran away from home. However, this all crashed down on him when he admitted this to Ellie. What he didn't know was that she was recording what he said. At the same time, she took pictures of her dad to humiliate him and she sent the recording to Thomas' parents and former church to humiliate him.

This backfired, as his parents offered to take him back in, and he found forgiveness. This also allowed Charlie to see what he wanted, as he told Mary that Ellie was a good person because she helped Thomas reunite with his parents. Brendan Fraser really escalated things here in The Whale , as Charlie could see the good in anyone, even when their intentions were evil. Even when Ellie lashed out at her dad, humiliated people around her, and lived a self-destructive life, Charlie could only see the eight-year-old girl who wrote a poem about Moby Dick .

Why Charlie Finally Shows His Face To His Students

As The Whale ending explained, Charlie really wanted to die. He had the money for a hospital stay, but refused to spend it and lied to the only person who cared about him. He didn't care about his life anymore and just wanted to save his daughter. As he told his wife, he just wanted to do one good thing in his life. Brendan Fraser finally broke down , as he showed Charlie saw all lies - from himself, his daughter, the missionary, and more - just caused more pain. He was tired of lying, and he decided that he would finally be honest. After lying to his students about his laptop camera being broken, he finally let them see what he looked like. His students mocked his appearance and he broke his laptop, severing his final ties with the outside world.

How The Whale Compares To The Play (Biggest Differences)

Playwright Samuel D. Hunter also wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation, making The Whale fairly loyal to the original play. However, one of the biggest differences between the movie adaptation and the play is Darren Aronofsky's more hopeful ending . This was executed in the visual appearance of the two endings. As The Whale ending explained, Charlie went into a white light and the last thing he saw was an image of him, his wife, and their daughter on a beach from the past. It was a sign of hope. The stage play kept showing how bad things were getting until Charlie died, and it all went black and deathly silent. The movie, while incredibly depressing, at least ended on a more positive note.

Related: How Did Brendan Fraser Transform For The Whale Movie?

The Real Meaning Of The Whale’s Ending

The Whale tackles many subjects, including abandonment, loss, broken families, sexuality, and the need for connection. The film’s most powerful theme is redemption. However, as with The Wrestler , Darren Aronofsky left viewers wondering what happened when the movie ended. The Whale ending explained Charlie’s desire to help Ellie find happiness before he dies. This is the only way he feels will absolve him of his past mistakes. Thomas also wants to be redeemed by bringing Charlie back to religion and puts forth tremendous effort to do so. The film suggests redemption has to be earned, and Charlie works hard for it, but that it must also come from the desire to make amends, to begin with.

The Whale also touches upon the theme of being oneself no matter what others think. Charlie feels a lot of shame — be it because of his sexuality or weight — and he hides a lot, fearing judgment despite his own compassion for others. But the Brendan Fraser film ending implies there is beauty in honesty — with others and oneself — and being unafraid of boldly being true to oneself. Crucially, The Whale also explores the variety of ways an individual might deal with grief, be that in losing a significant other to death or dealing with the absence of a parent. Everyone handles it differently, and Aronofsky’s film showcases the breadth of experiences.

Brendan Fraser Receives Oscar Nomination For The Whale

Brendan Fraser took on the role of Charlie in The Whale and delivered the performance of a lifetime. In Charlie's interactions with Liz, he showed his undying optimism in the people around him, even as he hated and loathed himself. When he talked to his daughter Ellie, he saw the good in her, even as she did everything in her power to hurt those around her. As a reward for this performance, Fraser picked up his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

Fraser received the same nomination from the Golden Globes, but he lost out in that ceremony to Austin Butler ( Elvis ). Despite that loss, Fraser is considered one of the frontrunners for the award at the Oscars, alongside Butler. On top of Fraser, Hong Chau also received a nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and the movie picked up a nomination for Makeup and Hairstyling.

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‘The Whale’ Ending Explained: Brendan Fraser’s Uncomfortable Drama Ends With a Final, Cruel Tragedy

Where to stream:.

To say The Whale is a difficult watch is the understatement of the century. The movie—which is now available to purchase on digital platforms like Amazon Prime Video —is a relentlessly uncomfortable and cruel two hours documenting the (spoiler alert!) final week of a 600-pound man, who has isolated himself from the world, and is now facing imminent death due to health issues caused by his weight.

Directed by Darren Aronofsky—the same man who brought you uncomfortable, divisive movies like Black Swan and mother! — The Whale is based on a 2012 play of the same name by Samuel D. Hunter. Hunter, who also adapted the screenplay for film, based the story on his own experience with obesity in college. “I know many people who are big, happy, and healthy, but I wasn’t,” Hunter said in an interview for the films’ press notes. “I had a lot of unprocessed emotions from attending a fundamentalist Christian school where my sexuality came to bear in an ugly way, and that emerged in an unhealthy relationship with food. When I started writing The Whale, I think it all just came pouring out of me.”

Thus , The Whale features many hard-to-watch sequences of binge-eating junk food, beads of sweat rolling down Brendan Fraser’s heavily make-upped face, and Fraser struggling to move around in a squishy, rolling fat suit. If you manage to make it to the end of the film, you’ll be met with a moving but ambiguous conclusion. Don’t worry, Decider is here to help. Read on for an analysis of The Whale plot summary and ending explained, including what happens at the end of The Whale , and whether Charlie dies. Major spoilers ahead.

The Whale plot summary:

We meet Charlie (Brendan Fraser) as he is giving a virtual lecture for an online college English course. He keeps his camera off, telling his students that his webcam is broken. In reality, he is ashamed of his appearance as an obese, 600-pound man. Charlie can’t walk on his own and never leaves his house. Through the course of the film, he is visited by several recurring characters. There is Liz (Hong Chau), Charlie’s nurse friend who cares for him. Liz informs Charlie that his blood pressure is at a dangerous level, and that he needs to go to the hospital, or he will very likely die of congestive heart failure by the end of the week. Charlie refuses to go, citing the fact that he has no money and can’t afford the hospital bills. He instead decides to spend his last week of life attempted to reconnect with his estranged daughter.

Another visitor of Charlie’s is Thomas, a door-to-door missionary from an evangelical church called New Life. Thomas walks in on Charlie while he is hyperventilating and at risk of having a heart attack. Charlie thrusts an essay about Herman Melville’s Moby Dick into Thomas’s hands and instructs him to read it. After Charlie calms down, Thomas asks why Charlie asked him to read it. “I thought I was going to die, and I wanted to hear it one last time,” Charlie says. “It’s a really good essay.”

Charlie is also visited by his teenage daughter, Ellie (Sadie Sink), whom he hasn’t seen since she was 8 years old. Charlie, a gay man, left Ellie and her mom when Ellie was 8 because he fell in love with one of his (adult) students. Charlie tells Ellie he wanted to be part of her life, but that her mother forbade him from seeing her. Ellie is an exceptionally angry teenager and is exceedingly cruel to her father. When Charlie learns that Ellie is in danger of flunking out of high school, he offers to help her with her upcoming essay. He also offers to pay her to spend time with him—all the money he has, which is over $100,000.

New Movies on Streaming: ‘The Whale,’ ‘Knock At The Cabin,’ + More

Where was ‘the whale’ filmed how darren aronofsky built his one-room set, stream it or skip it: ‘the whale’ on vod, darren aronofsky’s wildly uncomfortable oscar bid for brendan fraser, how to watch ‘the whale,’ now available from on-demand retailers.

Thomas the missionary returns to Charlie’s home because he believes he was sent by God at the exact right moment to help Charlie. Liz is upset by Thomas’s presence and tells him to leave Charlie alone. We learn that Liz’s brother, Alan, was Charlie’s romantic partner, as well as a member of the New Life church. Liz blames New Life for her brother’s extreme unhappiness—because he was told his sexuality went against the will of God—which eventually led to Alan jumping off a bridge and killing himself. Charlie, in his grief, began binge-eating in response.

Charlie’s health is rapidly declining. Liz brings Charlie a wheelchair to help him move around his house. Ellie once again visits Charlie and demands that he write her essay assignment. Charlie agrees. Despite how cruel Ellie is to Charlie, he insists she is an amazing person. Ellie slips Charlie sleeping pills, and while he is unconscious, Thomas the missionary once again comes to visit, and Ellie threatens to kill her father if Thomas doesn’t smoke pot with her. She snaps an incriminating photo of Thomas, and then confronts him: She knows he’s not from New Life, because she knows that New Life no longer has door-to-door missionaries.

Thomas confesses that while he used to be a missionary—after his parents sent him away to the church when they discovered him smoking pot–he grew frustrated with the church’s lack of social outreach and felt he wasn’t truly helping people. After a blow-out argument with the pastor, Thomas stole all of the church’s petty cash and left. He confesses to Ellie that he is almost out of money, but is too afraid to go home. Ellie secretly records his confession.

Liz and Ellie’s mother, Mary (Samantha Morton), show up and discover that Ellie has drugged her father. After Liz coaxes Charlie back to consciousness, she finds out that Charlie, despite his protests about hospital bills, does, in fact, have money. He’s just been saving all of it to give to Ellie. Liz is furious that Charlie has refused to buy the medical care and equipment he needs, and storms out. Ellie storms out too, telling her dad to “just fucking die already.” Charlie gives Ellie the essay she asked for before she leaves.

Charlie and Mary talk about their life and marriage. Charlie shares a memory of going to the beach with Ellie and Mary and swimming in the ocean. Mary tells Charlie one reason she kept Charlie away from Ellie is that she was afraid Ellie would hurt him. Mary says Ellie is “evil,” and shows Charlie a cruel picture of himself that Ellie posted on social media, mocking him. Charlie continues to insist that Ellie is amazing and that she’s a great writer. Mary leaves in tears, and Charlie, also in tears, tells her that he has to believe he’s done one good thing in his life, aka Ellie.

After Mary leaves, Charlie goes on a binge eating session that ends in him vomiting. He rashly posts a prompt on his students’ online message board, challenging them to write something honest. Thomas visits one last time and shows Charlie a Bible passage highlighted in Alan’s old Bible. Thomas believes Alan died because he turned his back on God and gave into “the flesh,” aka homosexuality. Charlie, for once, stands up for himself, and more or less tells Thomas to piss off. Thomas informs Charlie that Ellie sent his recorded confession to his church and parents, and that both parties forgave him, meaning he can finally go home.

In his final webinar class, Charlie reveals he has been fired. He reads some of his students’ responses to his prompt to be honest. Moved by their honesty, he vows to be honest in return and turns on his web camera to show them his entire body. The students react in shock and disgust.

The Whale ending explained:

On the last day of his life, Liz returns to Charlie to take care of him. Even though she is angry, she loves him. Charlie tells Liz that he believe Ellie ratted Thomas out because she wanted to help him, because, “people are amazing.” Ellie storms into the house, angry with Charlie because she failed her essay assignment. When she sees the shape Charlie is in, she uncertainly asks Liz what’s wrong. “He’s dying,” Liz replies. Ellie says to call an ambulance, but Charlie replies, “No.” Ellie asks to speak to Charlie alone, and although Liz doesn’t want to leave Charlie, she agrees. Liz seems to realize that she is saying goodbye to Charlie, and tells him she’ll wait downstairs.

Ellie demands to know why Charlie failed her assignment and accuses him of purposefully screwing her over. Charlie, who is beginning to hyperventilate, tells Ellie that he didn’t write the essay—she did. It’s an essay on Moby Dick that Ellie wrote in 8th grade. Ellie’s mom sent the essay to Charlie, and Charlie believes it’s the best essay he’s ever read. Charlie sobs that he is sorry for leaving Ellie. As he begins to actively have a heart attack, Ellie turns to leave. Charlie begs her to read her essay to him, and she relents. As Ellie reads about the whale in Moby Dick , Charlie stands to his full height, entirely on his own. (Get it? He’s the whale!)

With a massive effort, Charlie walks toward Ellie. When Ellie reads Charlie’s favorite line in the essay—”And I felt saddest of all when I read the boring chapters, that were just descriptions of whales, because I knew the author was trying to save us from his own sad story, just for a little while,”—Charlie imagines stepping into the ocean, all those years ago when he wasn’t so obese.

Ellie steps toward Charlie. She begins to read the next line of the essay, “This book made me think about my own life, and then it made me glad for my–” but she cuts off. Charlie and Ellie smile at each other. Then with a gasp, Charlie floats off the floor and into a bright white light. With that, the movie ends.

Does Charlie die in The Whale ?

Yes. While one could argue that The Whale ending is up for interpretation, my interpretation is that Charlie’s feet leaving the ground is a clear metaphor for Charlie’s body leaving this earth, aka, that he has died of heart failure. The movie has made it clear throughout that Charlie only has about a week to live, and is careful to denote each day of the week. Liz said at the beginning of the final scene that Charlie is dying.

This is slightly different from how the stage version of The Whale ends, with a hard cut to black. But in an interview with editor Andrew Weisblum for the film’s press notes, it seems clear that the filmmakers intended this scene to indicate “the end” of Charlie’s life, and that it mirror the first scene that Charlie has with Ellie. “It was important to set that up structurally, these two moments that reflect each other—where in one Charlie fails and in the other, he succeeds. The cutting patterns and shot choices of the two scenes are very similar. But the power of that final scene is that we know Charlie is facing the end.”

What was the end of Ellie’s essay in The Whale ?

But what about that final line of Ellie’s essay, that we never got to hear? What is she glad for? Unfortunately, we’ll never know. The full essay is never read in the movie and always cuts off before that final line.

While we never get to hear what it was that Ellie was glad for in her own life, it’s clear that this is the most impactful part of the essay for Charlie. Did she write that she was glad family, perhaps? Or is she glad her dad left her when he did, to spare her his sad story? Or for the fact that she has books to read, to escape her own sad story, just for a little while?

It’s up to you to fill in the blank. Because the movie is so bleak, I choose to interpret it as Ellie feeling grateful for both her mother and her father, who love her. I just need Charlie to know that Ellie was grateful for his love. He needed to know he did one good thing with his life, he said. Maybe he’s clinging to that essay because the final line, written by Ellie, confirms that he did.

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The Whale ending explained: Brendan Fraser breaks down Charlie and Ellie's final scene

Joey Nolfi

Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Whale .

It's easy to get swept up in the emotions of Darren Aronofsky 's searing drama The Whale , which follows Brendan Fraser as Charlie, a reclusive, 600-pound literature professor struggling, in the last days of his life, to reconnect with the teenage daughter, Ellie ( Sadie Sink ), whom he abandoned years prior. The film's conclusion, however, might be more difficult for some viewers to read, so we asked Fraser and screenwriter Samuel D. Hunter to break down what the final scene means for Charlie's journey.

The film slowly builds to a key moment for the father-daughter pair, after Charlie spends most of the movie defending Ellie's sporadic outbursts and prickly, wounded disposition — particularly to his longtime caregiver and friend, Liz ( Hong Chau ). Charlie maintains that Ellie, like most people, has an innate capacity for empathy, and regularly heralds one of her blunt, years-old school essays criticizing the classic novel Moby Dick . He see it as a signifier of her purity, honesty, and unbridled passion. Still, Ellie remains skeptical of Charlie during most of the film's running time.

The Whale

"Ellie torments him, when she cases him out the fist time she sees him," Fraser observes, noting a specific piece of blocking. "You notice that she stands behind him. She knows he can't look over his shoulder. She's torturing him a little bit. She's cross, she's angry for the sadness she feels, and that's how this 17-year-old brilliant kid comports herself. She goads him into taking to his feet, knowing well that he likely can't and that it would make him very uncomfortable to do that without even having the assistance of his walker — but she takes it from him anyway and makes him prove himself, and he can't."

That scene, Fraser says, is key to understanding the film's conclusion, which brings Ellie and Charlie together for a genuine connection, as she reads the essay aloud. Again, Charlie attempts to rise up and walk toward her. That's where things get fantastical, as Fraser calls the final sequence an act of "contrition" for Charlie, in which he's "liberated" after finally breaking through her defensive armor, reaffirming to Ellie that he sees her for the person she is — and always was.

"It's important because it's a Herculean effort that he makes to even get to his feet," Fraser says. "For him to finally break through to her, humble himself before her, and let her know that he made a mistake and is sorry for it. While his life has not physically ended in that moment, I think that he knows he doesn't need to live any longer, which is why he takes off his breather, he's got her reading the essay, and he does take to his feet like three Olympic dead-lifters, takes his baby steps to his baby, and in that beautiful two-shot, a great white light appears, and they look skyward. Depending on your belief system, spiritually or otherwise, we see that Charlie — with a touch of magic realism — finally does fly."

Screenwriter Hunter calls the run-up a "hero journey where he gets the elixir."

The Whale

"He's struggling this entire film to put a mirror up to his daughter to say, 'This is who you are,' and in those final moments, that mirror is this essay," Hunter explains. "When she looks at it, she can't deny turning it in and getting a D, but then, here's her father, all these years later, being like, 'This is the best essay I've ever read.' At long last, he's the only person who sees her, and she knows it."

As for whether Hunter feels Charlie is actually walking in the final shot, he says it's open for interpretation.

"I think it's an apotheosis — you can take it how you want it," he says. "In the play, the way I wrote it is that you hear a sound of waves and they slowly intensify through that scene, so, there's a way to read it both ways. It wants to be miraculous, either literally or figuratively, and I think you can watch it either way."

You can watch and interpret for yourself: The Whale is now in theaters nationwide via A24 . See Fraser explain the movie's ending in the video above.

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Michael Lamb


What happens in THE WHALE

An essay on the film from darren aronofsky.

When The Whale opens, it immediately apologizes for its aspect ratio, while at the same time letting the decision explain itself: what you are about to see will be a reduction of a life into a square box. A single black square bears the emblem, “Instructor,” among a sea of squares containing faces. The voice of Brendan Fraser combines with the…

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the essay from the whale movie

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"The Whale" is an abhorrent film, but it also features excellent performances.

It gawks at the grotesquerie of its central figure beneath the guise of sentimentality, but it also offers sharp exchanges between its characters that ring with bracing honesty.

It's the kind of film you should probably see if only to have an informed, thoughtful discussion about it, but it's also one you probably won't want to watch.

This aligns it with Darren Aronofsky's movies in general, which can often be a challenging sit. The director is notorious for putting his actors (and his audiences) through the wringer, whether it's Jennifer Connolly's drug addict in " Requiem for a Dream ," Mickey Rourke's aging athlete in " The Wrestler ," Natalie Portman's obsessed ballerina in " Black Swan ," or Jennifer Lawrence's besieged wife in "mother!" (For the record, I'm a fan of Aronofsky's work in general.)

But the difference between those films and "The Whale" is their intent, whether it's the splendor of their artistry or the thrill of their provocation. There's a verve to those movies, an unpredictability, an undeniable daring, and a virtuoso style. They feature images you've likely never seen before or since, but they'll undoubtedly stay with you afterward.

"The Whale" may initially feel gentler, but its main point seems to be sticking the camera in front of Brendan Fraser , encased in a fat suit that makes him appear to weigh 600 pounds, and asking us to wallow in his deterioration. In theory, we are meant to pity him or at least find sympathy for his physical and psychological plight by the film's conclusion. But in reality, the overall vibe is one of morbid fascination for this mountain of a man. Here he is, knocking over an end table as he struggles to get up from the couch; there he is, cramming candy bars in his mouth as he Googles "congestive heart failure." We can tsk-tsk all we like between our mouthfuls of popcorn and Junior Mints while watching Fraser's Charlie gobble greasy fried chicken straight from the bucket or inhale a giant meatball sub with such alacrity that he nearly chokes to death. The message "The Whale" sends us home with seems to be: Thank God that's not us.

In working from Samuel D. Hunter's script, based on Hunter's stage play, Aronofsky doesn't appear to be as interested in understanding these impulses and indulgences as much as pointing and staring at them. His depiction of Charlie's isolation within his squalid Idaho apartment includes a scene of him masturbating to gay porn with such gusto that he almost has a heart attack, a moment made of equal parts shock value and shame. But then, in a jarring shift, the tone eventually turns maudlin with Charlie's increasing martyrdom.

Within the extremes of this approach, Fraser brings more warmth and humanity to the role than he's afforded on the page. We hear his voice first; Charlie is a college writing professor who teaches his students online from behind the safety of a black square. And it's such a welcoming and resonant sound, full of decency and humor. Fraser's been away for a while, but his contradictions have always made him an engaging screen presence—the contrast of his imposing physique and playful spirit. He does so much with his eyes here to give us a glimpse into Charlie's sweet but tortured soul, and the subtlety he's able to convey goes a long way toward making "The Whale" tolerable.

But he's also saddled with a screenplay that spells out every emotion in ways that are so clunky as to be groan-inducing. At Charlie's most desperate, panicky moments, he soothes himself by reading or reciting a student's beloved essay on Moby Dick , which—in part—gives the film its title and will take on increasing significance. He describes the elusive white whale of Herman Melville's novel as he stands up, shirtless, and lumbers across the living room, down the hall, and toward the bedroom with a walker. At this moment, you're meant to marvel at the elaborate makeup and prosthetic work on display; you're more likely to roll your eyes at the writing.

"He thinks his life will be better if he can just kill this whale, but in reality, it won't help him at all," he intones in a painfully obvious bit of symbolism. "This book made me think about my own life," he adds as if we couldn't figure that out for ourselves.

A few visitors interrupt the loneliness of his days, chiefly Hong Chau as his nurse and longtime friend, Liz. She's deeply caring but also no-nonsense, providing a crucial spark to these otherwise dour proceedings. Aronofsky's longtime cinematographer, the brilliant Matthew Libatique , has lit Charlie's apartment in such a relentlessly dark and dim fashion to signify his sorrow that it's oppressive. Once you realize the entirety of the film will take place within these cramped confines, it sends a shiver of dread. And the choice to tell this story in the boxy, 1.33 aspect ratio further heightens its sense of dour claustrophobia.

But then "Stranger Things" star Sadie Sink arrives as Charlie's rebellious, estranged daughter, Ellie; her mom was married to Charlie before he came out as a gay man. While their first meeting in many years is laden with exposition about the pain and awkwardness of their time apart, the two eventually settle into an interesting, prickly rapport. Sink brings immediacy and accessibility to the role of the sullen but bright teenager, and her presence, like Chau's, improves "The Whale" considerably. Her casting is also spot-on in her resemblance to Fraser, especially in her expressive eyes.

The arrival of yet another visitor—an earnest, insistent church missionary played by Ty Simpkins —feels like a total contrivance, however. Allowing him inside the apartment repeatedly makes zero sense, even within the context that Charlie believes he's dying and wants to make amends. He even says to this sweet young man: "I'm not interested in being saved." And yet, the exchanges between Sink and Simpkins provide some much-needed life and emotional truth. The subplot about their unlikely friendship feels like something from a totally different movie and a much more interesting one.

Instead, Aronofsky insists on veering between cruelty and melodrama, with Fraser stuck in the middle, a curiosity on display.

Now playing in theaters. 

Christy Lemire

Christy Lemire

Christy Lemire is a longtime film critic who has written for since 2013. Before that, she was the film critic for The Associated Press for nearly 15 years and co-hosted the public television series "Ebert Presents At the Movies" opposite Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, with Roger Ebert serving as managing editor. Read her answers to our Movie Love Questionnaire here .

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Film credits.

The Whale movie poster

The Whale (2022)

Rated R for language, some drug use and sexual content.

117 minutes

Brendan Fraser as Charlie

Sadie Sink as Ellie

Hong Chau as Liz

Ty Simpkins as Thomas

Samantha Morton as Mary

Sathya Sridharan as Dan

Writer (based on the play by)


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Essay: Movie Analysis – The Squid and the Whale

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Abstract This paper explores family’s structure of the movie ‘The Squid and the Whale’ by Noah Baumbach including with relationship, personalities and characteristics of each family members, important demographic characteristics such as socioeconomic status, cultural and racial background, historical period, influence on personality, beliefs, and behaviors such as familial, socio-cultural, biological influences or a major life event and developmental tasks of each member. Keywords: family analysis, The Squid and the Whale, personalities, demographic characteristics, socio-cultural, developmental tasks   Movie Analysis Paper – The Squid and the Whale (2005)   The squid and the whale is a story about two brothers living in Brooklyn in 1986 who are deeply affected in the middle of the divorce of their parents, Bernard (Jeff Daniels) and Joan Berkman (Laura Linney). The older brother, Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) stays with his dad and acts out at school, while the younger brother Frank (Owen Kline) backs up his mom. (Rafi, 2005) The household tension gets more serious when the mother’s writing career takes off and surpasses the failed ambitions of her professor ex-husband. As a result, the two teen sons’ loyalties are split between their parents, as the mother dates the younger son’s tennis coach, and the father courts the older son’s object of affection. Walt has become the main protagonist and must work through his dysfunctional identification with Bernard in order to begin to discover what he wants and who he is. While he was struggling for the independence, he found disillusion about his father and learn to face his fear as he found the fight of the squid and the whale in the museum of natural history as a metaphor of his mother and father. As squid and whale are important sea animals like father and mother are important for the family. There are always bad consequences following the fight of these two people. This film, written and directed by Noah Baumback, claims that the film reflects the writer’s personal experience of his parents’ divorce. The film is seen as a letter of hate towards the writer’s own father. The Squid and the Whale is about divisions, clashing forces; the mother and father, the child and parent, the intelligent, the appearance of things and their true nature. Each of these conflicts and every scene in the film is the battle between cynical detachment and vulnerability. It reveals a great deal about the ethics of care, while eloquently depicting the major obstacles to its realization within the family. The family structure in this movie is a nuclear family of four people including with mother, father, older brother and younger brother. The father, Bernard published a book and thought creative writing at a community college. He is insulting and egotistical with little awareness of his behavior on others. He seems to be failing in work, his marriage and financially but consistently blames his failure on others; people who don’t publish him and his wife’s affairs. He does not take responsibility for himself. He also cannot be attentive to his children because he seems to care only about himself—his own needs, desires, and views. For example, of his characteristic, there is a scene when they are playing tennis, the father is a side with the older brother and the mother is a side with the younger brother. The father told the older brother to hit the tennis ball toward his mother’s left hand where it is her weakness. As a result, this character has low differentiation due to the unable to separate his emotion and intellectual functioning, unable to objective about his feeling, his life is at the mercy of uncontrolled emotion forces and unable to productively face stress. Mother, Joan seems less developed as a character. She is warm but a bit elusive fighting for independence with a husband who is envious and condescending. She seems to be a devoted mother; calls her children chicken and pickle. Like many mothers of adolescent boys, she may be trying to engage them as if they were a younger age level and seems to have difficulty with the aggressive and sexual drives that they exhibit. Like the ability to take care of the kids, this character seems to have greater differentiation than the father. Frank 12 years old true to his name is open and honest expressing what he thinks and feels. He is, therefore, more vulnerable and has fewer defenses to cope with the emotional pain of the parental separation and the feelings of abandonment and confusion that this brings. He engages in acting out behavior and experimentation with drugs in order to subdue some of his anguish. By watching his father 16-year-old Walter has learned how to hide his feelings and often his ignorance behind a jargon that passes for intellectualization. He seems to be precocious intellectually but keeps a safe distance from his own experiences preferring to act in a superior manner in imitation of his father. The different characters of both boys are evident in their response to the parents telling them that they are going to separate. Frank, undefended, begins to cry. Walt remains detached and adult-like asking about the custody of the cat. His own fears of abandonment or neglect are projected onto the pet thus allowing him to deny to his own fears. (Yack) This is an effect of sibling position that Eldest children as more likely to take on responsibility and leadership and younger siblings more comfortable being dependent and allowing others to make decisions (Anderson, 2007). With these factors, the family is poorly differentiated with a high level of unresolved conflicts. After the separation, the family becomes Single-parent families which one parent living with one child. It is said that children living with one parent may be a little off balance as opposed to children living with both parents. It may have side effects on the children’s morale, behavior and possibly health as in this case, Walt, the older sibling acts out at school and used drugs. The movie has an open-end ending where the consequences of the divorce have effects on children’s behavior and did not say about the improvement of their lives. The attachment style between parent characters is Anxious Preoccupied Attachment as the parents feel emotional hunger and frequently looking to their partner to rescue or complete them as the father then to blame his partner of a wrong outcome and unsuccessfulness of his life events. This might be a sign of seeking a sense of safety and security. As a result, he takes action by pushing her away. Each child in this family seeks attachment from only one of their parent for a different purpose. The older child attaches to his dad as he sees his dad as a ‘hero’, a successful person. His father’s behaviors obviously have an effect on him as the father face the unsuccessfulness of his life and has a delusion that he supposed to be a successful person. He forces that thought to his children and makes them think the way he wants them to which is seeing him as a successful person. The older child absorbs that thought and wants to be as his father. Then, he decided to take his side. However, from his father’s influence of personality, he started to use drugs and copy somebody work and claimed it his own. The younger child is attached to the mother because he is a younger child of the household who seeks love. However, as the mother’s behavior, having an affair with the younger child’s tennis teacher. The child then turns to act aggressively and gain more sexual drive than he supposed to. These then have effects on the children’s development tasks. The children are 12 and 16, both are in teen ages. The development tasks including establishing their own identity, separating emotionally from parents, experimenting with different values and deciding their own values, learning about how to relate to the opposite sex, beginning to renegotiate relationships with family members. (Anderson, 2007) Adolescents in this movie struggle to gain independence from their parents in an effort to achieve an identity. The older child has an effect on establishing his identity and experimenting with different values and deciding on his own values. While the younger child has an effect on separating emotionally from parents and learning about how to relate to the opposite sex. For example, there is a scene when he sees himself and reflection of his mother in the mirror. He wants to see only his physical resemblance to her because he is angry with his father. She states that he has some of his father’s features; trying to keep up a faltering father-son bond. There is also a scene when he asks himself “Who are you?” The older child, Walt, is on the other side. He wants to see his father identity reflects in him. This type of identification does not support the development of independent in adolescents and might cause a fusion to his identity. The father’s ability to recognize how his behavior is harming the children is symptomatic of his failure to think about what they are facing as a problem. According to Levinson’s theory, settle down and midlife transition, involve with reinvesting in work and family commitments, reevaluating previous commitments, making dramatic changes if necessary, giving expression to previously ignored talents or aspirations and feeling more of a sense of urgency about life and its meaning. (Anderson, 2007) The ages of the parents are unknown. However, the age assumed to be between 30-45. As stated above, the father fails to commit the tasks of reinvesting in work, family commitments, making a dramatic change in a positive way, feeling more of a sense of urgency about life and its meaning. He fails to value the importance of his family. The mother fails to commit the tasks of reevaluating previous commitment as she dates with the tennis teacher and feeling more of a sense of urgency about life and its meaning as she ignores the value of the family as well. However, the divorce was not her fault but the husband that blames her. Still, she tends to abandon the value and meaning of family. However, In the relationship between parents and adolescent children, parents should fill their responsibility to further the child’s self-understanding and independence of thought and choice. (Kupfer, 2012) Construing our identities as social can also mean that we view personal identity as significantly defined by our relationships with other people: “Our relations are part of what constitutes our identity.” (Kupfer, 2012) For the relationship of this family, there are alliances of sharing interest between mother and a younger child, father and older child. Each child in this family seeks different thing from a different parent. Therefore, there is a coalition between father and older child toward their mother as the older child listen to his father blaming her for household failure. As the opening tennis scene says “Me and Mom vs. You and Dad.” (Baumbach, 2006) Obviously, there is a disengagement between two sides of this family and emotional cut off between the younger child and his father and between the older child and his mother in order to avoid fusion and maintain control over their senses of self. By taking a side, the need for identity development of the children is emotionally satisfied. Even though, it is developing in bad ways. Despite her husband, Joan seems to have a sympathetic imagination, responsibility required in meeting the needs of her children as a person who cares more about the relationship. The father, Bernard, always put his own need ahead of the needs of his children. There is a lack of recognition in Bernard to satisfy the needs of people who are in a close relationship. In the end, he displaced from his sons’ lives as he did to his wife because he cannot satisfy those needs of giving care to them, even himself. He is cheap with his emotional resources as well as his economic situation. The emotional climate starts at the beginning of the film as they are telling their kids of getting a divorce. Walt, who has his attached to his father desired on his emotional condition to be with his father. Even though, Bernard rejects him for seeing his mother sometimes. Walt then has an emotional breakdown of realization of how selfish his father is that he does not care about anything apart from himself. This related to the consensual type of communication. According to professor of communications Ascan F. Koerner, Ph.D., in the article “Family Communication Patterns Theory.” Family members communicate freely about thoughts, feelings, and activities, but at the same time, parents are the final decision-makers about important issues. Their communication action is characterized by a tension between pressure to agree and to preserve the existing hierarchy. Within the family on the one hand, and an interest in open communication and in exploring new ideas on the other hand. That is, parents in these families are very interested in their children and what the children have to say, but at the same time also believe that they, as the parents, should make decisions for the family and for the children. (Koerner, 2006) This pattern can lead to conflicts and tensions as the previous example of Bernard does not let his son see his mother after the divorce even though his son wants to. This causes my desire to be open but also have control over the action. In my opinion, this family as a whole is undifferentiated including with dysfunctional, fused, unhealthy, triggered and emotionally immature. According to Murray Bowen, Typical roles in dysfunctional families are the Hero, Scapegoat, Mascot, Lost Child, Parentified Child, and Little Helper. (Anderson, 2007) In this movie, the ‘Hero’ role has appeared as the father through the eyes of the older brother. People at the low extreme like Bernard, are those whose emotions and intellect are so fused that their lives are dominated by the feelings of those around them. For example, how he cares about his success and how people think about his work rather than people in his family. As a consequence, they are easily stressed into dysfunction. Bowen considers them to be expressing a pseudo-self, which they may deceive themselves into thinking is real but which is composed of the opinions and values of codependency. These factors are considered unhealthy in family and relationship. This also aggregable with his undifferentiated family ego mass concept of how children are attached to their mother more than father due to the intensity of emotional closeness between individual. However, this can lead to ‘overclossness’ of how Frank is attached to his mother and want to be like her new boyfriend and Walt is attached to his father and want to be like him. For their marital relationship, as communication is necessary to key for getting the marital tasks done, the couple in this movie does not manage to communicate well. As a result, the comparison level, the unique values, and expectation individuals bring to their relationship, is low because both of the partners does not bring as much effort to their relationship. Despite, they blame each other for their failures. This results in low power on each other due to the ignorance and do not seek control of other’s behavior, the conversational style is also negative due to the failure of communication, there is no rule of reciprocity, nonverbal symbols, as this movie does not show the effort of individual toward the family, there are no emotional bids, equity, fairness and flooding, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and most of the concepts. From this information, the couple has a negative way to handle conflicts. As a result, they end up getting a divorce. Besides, Parents need to find ways to balance the commitment of parenthood, work, and marriage. (Anderson, 2007) Otherwise, it will lead to role conflict, role strain, and role overload. The reason of role conflict in this movie is the father who sees his work and himself more important than the family. He put his career role which is a writer first. This then affects his role of a father and a husband. This might be a reason for his role overload as well. The mother, however, seems to manage well with her role strain as a successful writer and a mother who can take care of the kids psychically and emotionally. The parenting style in this movie is permissive as they still care about their children but make few demands on their children. This can be seen in a scene when the brothers show sympathy and care for one another for the first time. Bernard demands that both boys get in the car, but Frank, ever honest about his emotions and desires, refuses. Walt intervenes on Frank’s behalf, saying that he will go home with their father. Frank, in turn, responds with kindness, offering the cat to Walt for the night. This ends his father’s true nature to Walt, and the filial generosity of heart is a resultant breakthrough in Walt’s relationship with his brother. Divorce puts a strain on the finances of most people. Bernard’s concern for money could be seen as simply being realistic, but the film does not depict him sympathetically and he comes across as niggardly. We are thereby invited to see the money as a motif or metaphor. Bernard’s economic tightfistedness symbolizes his stinginess with attention, effort, and heart. (Kupfer, 2012) The main thing that influences this family would be socioeconomic status. Each character tends to be influenced by different things. However, still, get involved between socioeconomic factors. I believe that this family is unhealthy the to the factors that state previously including with low differentiated individual and family as a whole, Anxious Preoccupied Attachment style, bad influence from parents to children, missing and incomplete of development task of both adolescent and adulthood, consensual type of communication and so on. The children meet their need for physical security and comfort within their middle-class family. But, emotional connectedness, child socialization from parents and self-esteem are not met due to the lack of attention and self-centered parents. As a result of this movie, it would make a great instructional video for parents on how not to split up, at least if their children’s welfare matters to them.   Work Cited Baumbach, N., Anderson, W., Newman, P., Markowicz, C., Corwin, C., Daniels, J., Linney, L., … Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (Firm). (2006). The Squid and the Whale. Culver City, CA: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Anderson, S. A., & Sabatelli, R. M. (2007). Family interaction: A multigenerational developmental perspective. Boston: Pearson/A & B. Kupfer, J. (2012). Feminist ethics in the film: reconfiguring care through cinema. Retrieved from Koerner, Ascan & Fitzpatrick, Mary. (2006). Family communication patterns theory: A social cognitive approach. Rafi, Khalid. “Review: The Squid and the Whale (2005).” The Blazing Reel, 22 July 2015, Yack, Dr. Mary Eleanor. “The Squid and the Whale .” Ottawa Psychoanalytic Society Société Psychanalytique D’Ottawa, Ottawa Psychoanalytic Society,

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the essay from the whale movie

The film begins with somebody getting off a bus and walking down a long road. Not far from there, an English college professor named Charlie (Brendan Fraser) is giving a lecture to his students via webcam, but he pretends that his camera doesn’t work so that his students will not see his appearance.

Charlie is morbidly obese, weighing at 600 pounds after enduring a personal tragedy. While masturbating, he begins to suffer intense chest pains. He begins trying to read an essay about “Moby Dick”, just as a missionary named Thomas (Ty Simpkins), coming from the New Life Church, comes to try and preach the word of God to him. Charlie asks Thomas to read him the essay because he wants it to be the last thing he hears before he dies. Charlie’s nurse and only friend, Liz (Hong Chau), comes over and orders Thomas to leave, as she has disdain for New Life. Liz gets Charlie regulated and urges him to go to a hospital because he is at risk for congestive heart failure with high blood pressure, but he says he cannot since he does not have life insurance.

Charlie consistently orders pizza from a place called Gambino’s and hears from the delivery man, Dan (Sathya Sridharan), but doesn’t interact with him. Charlie usually leaves money in the mailbox while Dan briefly speaks to him from outside before leaving.

Charlie is visited by his estranged daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink), who resents him for leaving her and her mother Mary (Samantha Morton) when she was eight because he engaged in an affair with his student Alan. Ellie states that Mary doesn’t know that she is visiting him. Charlie offers Ellie all of his money ($120,000) if she spends time with him. He also offers to help her with her schoolwork, as she gets in trouble for bullying other students. When Liz finds out Ellie has been there, she scolds Charlie for having her there, saying it’s a bad idea.

Thomas visits Charlie again, and he helps Charlie pick up a key to Alan’s room that he dropped. Liz shows up again, and although she attempts to send Thomas away again, she privately talks to him outside. Liz states that her adoptive father was the pastor of New Life, and Alan was her brother. Overcome with guilt for being gay, Alan committed suicide by jumping off a bridge, which led to Charlie’s binge eating and depression, as well as Liz’s hatred for the church. Despite this, Thomas believes he is there to bring God into Charlie’s life. After Thomas leaves, Liz gives Charlie a sandwich, which he starts choking on until Liz helps him cough up the food.

Ellie continues making visits, but she coldly rebuffs Charlie’s attempts to reconnect with her. When she says that Charlie could have made attempts to stay connected to her throughout her life, he says he tried and also tried to send her and Mary money. Charlie keeps trying to assure Ellie that she is an amazing person.

Thomas visits again after Ellie has given Charlie a sandwich with crushed-up Ambien to make him fall asleep. She smokes weed and gives some to Thomas while also making crude comments to deliberately make him uncomfortable. Thomas states that he used to have a problem smoking weed habitually. Ellie then brings up that New Life stopped having door-to-door missionaries, which forces Thomas to come clean that he left New Life a while ago because he stole money and ran away from home. Ellie records the confession on her phone and also takes pictures of Thomas and Charlie.

Thomas visits Charlie one last time, informing him that Ellie recorded his confession and sent it to his family in Iowa. Instead of reacting angrily, they have forgiven him and invited him to return home. Thomas sees this as a sign to try and convert Charlie, but he rejects the idea. He starts talking to Thomas about his relationship with Alan and the side effects of his obesity, which make Thomas uncomfortable enough to call Charlie disgusting. Charlie sends Thomas away.

While Ellie is with Charlie, Liz brings Mary to the apartment after telling her that Ellie has been visiting. Ellie mentions that Charlie offered to pay her, and Liz says Charlie doesn’t have money. As it turns out, Liz simply did not know that Charlie has been saving money for Ellie, and she reacts angrily because he could have used the money to help himself and get medical attention, so she storms off. Ellie also berates Charlie and tells him to “fucking die already”. Charlie then talks to Mary, initially reminiscing about when they were still married and thinking about a memory where they were at the beach together with Ellie. Mary also tells Charlie that Ellie had always cared for him more than her, calling her a terror for how she treats her classmates and other people, but Charlie disagrees and thinks that Ellie does care for people since she got Thomas to return to his family. Mary also tells him that she once encountered Alan and wanted to confront him over Charlie’s affair with him, but she just helped him with groceries without letting him know who she was. As Mary leaves, Charlie tearfully tells her he just needs to know he did one thing right with his life.

Charlie orders pizza again and goes outside to get it, where Dan sees him for the first time and appears to react with surprise and disgust. This leads to Charlie experiencing a binge-eating episode before he vomits. He then sends a profane email to his students, telling them to disregard the writing assignments and write something honest.

Charlie gives one last lecture as he tells the students he is being replaced for what he told them. He reads some of their honest entries, telling them that their thoughts matter more than the course itself. He then turns the webcam on to show himself to the students before he throws the laptop against the fridge, shattering it.

Liz returns to Charlie’s apartment after feeling guilty for leaving him. However, they both know he is close to death. When Ellie comes back, Liz says with tears in her eyes that she will wait downstairs. Ellie is angry because Charlie switched her essay, causing her to fail. It is revealed that the “Moby Dick” essay that he had Thomas read him was an essay that Ellie wrote in 8th grade. Before she storms out again, Charlie tells her that she is perfect and requests that she read him the essay. She does so, and he begins to walk over to her without his walker, as she had earlier dared him to do. Ellie tearfully reads the essay as Charlie comes closer to her. He then appears to die, with his spirit rising to Heaven.

The last thing we see is Charlie’s final thoughts, being the memory of him with Ellie and Mary at the beach.

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Charlie is a morbidly obese English college professor, a result of his binge eating after his partner Alan committed suicide. His only friend is his nurse Liz, who urges him to get medical help or he will be dead soon. Charlie also attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughter Ellie, who resents him for leaving her and her mother Mary for Alan.

Charlie is also visited by a missionary named Thomas, whom Liz dislikes because he comes from a church where her father was the pastor, and Alan, who was her brother, killed himself because of religious guilt. Thomas has a brief encounter with Ellie, confessing to her that he stole money from his family's church in Iowa. She records the confession and sends it to his family, but they forgive him and invite him home. Thomas sees this as a sign that Charlie can be converted, but he rejects it after Thomas makes unflattering comments about Charlie's sexuality and weight.

Charlie has one last meeting with Mary after she finds out Ellie has been seeing him behind her back. He also has one final meeting with his students after he tells them to disregard their assignments and write honest statements about themselves, knowing he will be replaced and allowing them to see him at last since he usually kept his webcam off.

Knowing he is close to death, Liz visits Charlie before his time is up, and Ellie goes to confront him because he switched her school essay with an 8th grade essay she wrote on "Moby Dick". Charlie assures Ellie that she is amazing and asks her to read him the essay. As she does so, he walks over to her without his walker, and he dies, with his last thoughts being a memory of himself at the beach with Ellie and Mary.

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Something New

'the whale': cast, plot, release date, and everything we know so far.

The Brendan Fraser comeback train keeps on rolling.

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Darren Aronofsky is a fantastic director without question, but that doesn't necessarily mean his repertoire of films are the most approachable movies in cinemas today. Having made films like Pi (1998), Requiem for a Dream (2000), The Fountain (2006), The Wrestler (2008), Black Swan (2010), and Noah (2014), Aronofsky is often the subject of rave reviews, but the brilliance that the film community praises him for is often overlooked by more casual audiences. Sometimes his films become the subject of debate amongst his most die-hard fans, such was the case with his most recent film Mother! (2017), which had a much more polarizing response with one side of viewers calling it masterful while the other side called it pretentious.

Regardless, most lovers of film who are familiar with Aronofsky's work would agree that the filmmaker has an incredible cinematic mind and is consistently committed to telling stories that he feels need to be told. Whether it be the epic biblical scale of Noah or the quieter but still chaotic enclosed environment of Mother! , his filmography is surprisingly diverse, and he's worked with a wide variety of budget types. However, Aronofsky's next project could very well be the smallest scale project he's worked on yet, but it looks to still include the existential themes of a human's place in the universe that he's become so well known for.

That movie is The Whale , the story of a six-hundred-pound man based on the stage play of the same name and starring Brendan Fraser in the lead role, making this another major get for the actor after his long hiatus in addition to his role in the upcoming Martin Scorsese pic, Killers of the Flower Moon (2023). The Whale will mark the first time that Aronofsky has worked with the universally acclaimed A24, the production company that has made a name for itself as the undisputed face of independent filmmaking in recent years. With existing source material, an Academy Award-nominated director, a beloved lead actor, and a studio with an impressive catalog of past success stories, The Whale sounds like it should be a surefire hit. Yet, despite being set to release later this year, details about the project have been shrouded in secrecy.

That doesn't mean that details about the anticipated project are impossible to find, so read below to find out everything we know so far about The Whale .

Editor's Note: This piece was updated on November 9, to include the latest trailer

Related: 'The Whale' First Look Shows Brendan Fraser's Transformation to a 600-Pound Man

The teaser trailer for The Whale was released a mere month prior to the film’s release. The late drop release is potentially due to the incredible social media buzz and early critical reception the film has received, making it a real contender for a sleeper “word of mouth” hit. The teaser really doesn’t give much away in its roughly one-minute run time, mainly deciding to focus on the praise the film has received from critics thus far and the lead stars of Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink , and Hong Chau .

The Whale has recently been officially slated for a wider release on Friday, December 9, 2022, just in time to be eligible for what is sure to be a competitive awards season. The Whale also has its festival run start just around the corner, with an official premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 4. Ahead of the release, the movie was also screened at the Austin Film Festival . Along with making the festival circuit, early buzz surrounding the film has already earned Brendan Fraser the TIFF Tribute Award , making this a very good sign for The Whale 's award show prospects.

When The Whale premiered at the Venice Film Festival, the film received an enthusiastic six-minute standing ovation that reportedly moved Brendan Fraser to tears . The movie has received acclaim, especially for Fraser's performance, from a whole lot of people including critics and even fellow actors like Dwayne Johnson .

Yes, The Whale is based on the off-Broadway play of the same name written by Samuel D. Hunter , who also wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation. Though the show may not have made it to the big illuminated signs of Broadway, it still became the subject of rave reviews and several prestigious awards. The Chicago Tribune for example called the Lucille Lortel Award-winning play "a remarkably eloquent exploration of the way the need for honesty overwhelms us when we sense that our time is short".

Hunter being so directly involved in the writing process is a pretty good sign that this will be faithful to the original story that captured the hearts and minds of so many within the theater world.

Related: 6 Extraordinary Acting Performances Already Earning 2023 Oscar Buzz

Charlie is a morbidly obese English teacher based in the state of Idaho. At about six hundred pounds, Charlie's obesity has made his range of movement limited, and he shares his passion for literature (particularly within his favorite novel, Moby Dick ) entirely virtually from his own couch. In addition to his morbid obesity, Charlie is also depressed to the point where he is suicidal, as he is essentially trying to eat himself to death. The only thing that is really stopping Charlie from achieving this goal sooner is another want to reconnect with his teenage daughter, Ellie ( Sadie Sink ).

Charlie seems to have come to terms with the fact that he doesn't have much time left on this Earth, regardless of if he's trying to expedite the process by overeating. However, with the help of Ellie, Charlie's nurse and closest friend Liz (Hong Chau), and a Mormon missionary named Thomas, perhaps Charlie may get a chance to find a source of meaning and happiness that he's been missing for so many years.

We've already mentioned some of the big creative names involved with the project, starting with Darren Aronofsky directing and original play creator Samuel D. Hunter returning to script the adaptation. The rest of the crew consists of quite the a-team as well. They include Rob Simonsen ( Foxcatcher ) as the composer, Matthew Libatique ( Black Swan ) as cinematographer, Andrew Weisblum ( The French Dispatch ) as editor, Mark Friedberg ( Joker ) and Robert Pyzocha ( Black Flies ) as production designers, and Jurasama Arunchai ( West Side Story ) as art director.

Though he's probably best known for his work on The Mummy trilogy, Brendan Fraser has a pretty diverse resume of roles in various genres, ranging from full-blown comedies like Bedazzled (2000) to existential super-hero dramas like Doom Patrol (2019-2021). The Whale easily could prove to be Fraser's most ambitious and challenging role yet, as this is an extremely deep character study that lives or dies on the emotional performance of Charlie.

The supporting cast joining Fraser includes Sadie Sink ( Stranger Things ) as Charlie's daughter Ellie, Hong Chau ( Downsizing ) as Charlie's nurse and companion Liz, Ty Simpkins ( Iron Man 3 ) as Mormon missionary Thomas, and Samantha Morton ( Synecdoche, New York ) as Charlie's ex-wife Mary.

How Brendan Fraser's Character in The Whale Confronts Our Issue with Instant Gratification

The Whale has divided critics, yet what can be agreed on is its brutalist approach to confronting the very modern issue of instant gratification.

“I want it all, and I want it now,” Freddie Mercury exclaims in Queen’s 1989 hard-rock track. An unintended sense of poetic injustice now reverberates with it as some sort of inharmonious retrospective accompaniment which reminds us that just two years after its release, Mercury’s booming musical demands would no longer be heard in the public sphere following his untimely death. Yet, 32 years after his passing, the British-Zanzibari’s carefully constructed lyrics speak to us, arguably, more coherently at present than they did in 1989. Wanting it all, and wanting it now encapsulates the state of the modern climate; patience has always been a virtue, but now it is a commodity that almost no one deals in.

Over three generations , from Millennials to Gen Alpha, we’ve borne witness to the demise of emphasis on hard work and dedication as a means of procuring success, and instead we seemingly want everything by the touch of a button, a tap on a screen, or a swipe on a phone. Darren Aronofsky’s latest project, The Whale has divided critics, yet what can be agreed on is its brutalist approach to confronting the very modern issue of instant gratification and the concept of fast-food culture.

What Is The Whale About?

After a five-year hiatus, The Whale signified director Darren Aronofsky’s return to cinematic production. Based on the play of the same name by playwright Samuel D. Hunter , The Whale explores themes of love, loss, illness, death, and redemption. Set completely in one location, protagonist Charlie ( Brendan Fraser ) is more or less confined to a housebound existence. An online lecturer, Charlie is morbidly obese and is almost continuously on the brink of a fatal heart attack, which is more of a case of when it’s going to strike, rather than if.

Related: Worst Injuries Brendan Fraser Sustained Making Movies

Incapable of the type of self-restraint needed to reform his eating habits and a stubbornness that prevents medical intervention, the prospect of eating himself to death is inevitable. Still grieving over the death of his boyfriend, and the breakdown of his marriage prior, Charlie attempts to rebuild a relationship with his estranged daughter.

How The Whale Speaks to Instant Gratification and Fast Food Culture

Obesity is treated with a great deal of trepidation these days; there is a particular sensitivity around the subject there simply wasn’t beforehand. Labeling a person “fat” is a surefire way to be canceled , and the liberality around all body types has led to greater acceptance and an adjustment of beauty standards. While many will see these developments as political correctness gone mad and have never taken issue with calling “a spade, a spade,” others see it as progressive, and a route to a more accommodating, more enlightened society. Charlie is the movie’s token of instant gratification, a fascinating case study of fast food culture.

In Aronofsky’s opening sequence, the idea of instant gratification immediately takes flight; sofa-bound, laptop-open, penis-in-hand, Charlie gawks at the porn emblazoned on his screen, as even the most exerting work he has put in for years will invariably lead to the achievement of that orgasmic, dopamine hit he so craves. Unfortunately for the viewer, The Whale is not a pleasurable watch . While Aronofsky’s screenplay pleads with us to see past Charlie’s grotesque exterior, just as he can’t help but consume his two daily pizzas, we can’t help but be consumed by his clammy enormity.

Related: The Whale Doesn't Like You: How Darren Aronofsky Movies Mistake Misery for Art

Like many cases of morbid obesity, there was an identifiable catalyst that sparked Charlie’s weight woes — the death of his beloved boyfriend. Now house-bound, too embarrassed to show his bloated face to his class via webinar, he is stranded like a beached whale, stuck in this perpetual state of helplessness and ill-discipline. Satisfying his cravings by any means necessary, even if it edges him closer to death, as long as it provides him with that endorphin rush. Whether it is through his vast diet, as he gauges on heavy steak and cheese sandwiches, deep-pan pizzas, deep-fried chicken, and entire packs of chocolate bars, the constant recital of his daughter’s essay on Moby Dick, or the masturbatory indulgence he partakes in, Charlie is addicted to that quick, good feeling.

I Want it Now

Charlie speaks to the normalized compulsion of needing to be in a permanent state of stimulation and satisfaction. It's an issue that has only really reared its head since the millennium, and has seemingly coincided with the conception of the smartphone, social media, and immediate access to 'everything, everywhere, all at once' at the click of a finger. Charlie doesn’t only just represent obese America, but almost the entire Western population, because whether it is food, drugs, sex, alcohol, social validation, or technological dependency, the vast majority rely on one form or another to generate near-indefinite gratification.

This gratifying, self-serving, over-indulgent “drip” has in turn given way to several generations of people struggling to navigate the difficulties of daily life without reaching for their fix. Charlie’s fix is essentially killing him, and thus he’s not only a burden and a worry for those that care for him, but he is straining his physical form to the brink of collapse.

Ultimately, The Whale does a truly emphatic job of bringing this Amazon Prime lifestyle into question, illustrating it in the most undignified, hideous, and grotesque manner imaginable. It's not pretty, and it's probably not politically correct, but it's a sadly accurate reflection.

the essay from the whale movie

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Sag awards: brendan fraser shares inspirational words to other actors during acceptance speech: “just stay in there”.

The actor took home the award for best male leading actor for 'The Whale' at the 29th annual ceremony.

By Carly Thomas

Carly Thomas

Associate Editor

Brendan Fraser at the 2023 SAG Awards

Brendan Fraser won best male actor in a leading role for his performance in The Whale at the 2023 Screen Actors Guild  Awards on Sunday night.

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He continued, “I wouldn’t believe that I had a chance to work with world-class filmmakers like Darren Aronofsky (the film’s director) and speak the words of empathy fountain that is Samuel D. Hunter (the film’s writer) and incredible castmates. … I never believed that I would have been offered the role of my life in this character — Charlie in The Whale .”

Fraser went on to share what he learned from playing the role and inspirational and powerful words for other actors. “He’s [Charlie] someone who is on a raft of regrets, but he’s in a sea of hope. And I’ve been at that sea and I rode that wave lately and it’s been powerful and good, and I’ve also had that wave smash me down to the ocean floor and dragged my face along there and wound up on some strange beach in a different world and wondering, where am I now? And I just want you to know … all the actors out there who have gone through that or are going through that, I know how you feel. Believe me, if you just stay in there and you put one foot in front of the other, you’ll get to where you need to go. Have courage.”

He concluded his acceptance by thanking his children, their mother and his agent, saying, “I wouldn’t be able to do any of this [without you]. Thank you so very much.”

The Mummy actor’s win follows an already busy award season for Fraser after he received his first Oscar nom for his performance in the film and also won best actor at the 2023 Critics Choice Awards.

Other nominees in the category included Austin Butler for  Elvis , Colin Farrell for  The Banshees of Inisherin , Bill Nighy for Living and Adam Sandler for  Hustle . (Check out the star-studded red carpet arrivals  here .)

The 29th annual SAG Awards ceremony was held at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles. The award show honors the year’s best acting performances in film and television. Find the complete winners list here .

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Multichoice, nbcu & sky partner on showmax in africa; mexico & hollywood studios forge working group; more – global briefs, ‘the whale’: read the screenplay for the play-turned-film that made brendan fraser an awards-season frontrunner.

By Patrick Hipes

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The Whale

Editors note :  Deadline’s  Read the Screenplay  series debuts and celebrates the scripts of films that will factor in this year’s movie awards races.

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'the whale' rides past $30m global box office; overseas standouts led by mexico.

Fraser and Sink star in the movie alongside Hong Chau, who plays Charlie’s caregiver. The cast also includes Ty Simpkins and Samantha Morton.

Fraser has been Oscar-buzzed since the beginning of the season, and has already scored Critics Choice and Golden Globe Best Actor nominations among others. Aronofsky told the Deadline Studio in  Toronto  where the film was in the lineup that he spent 10 years searching for the actor to play Charlie, describing the process as the “biggest hurdle” to making the film.

The Whale hit theaters in six theaters in Los Angeles and New York on December 9 and scored 2022’s best per-theater average. It later expanded, with its box office cume now sitting at $8.58 million.

Click to read Hunter’s script below:

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Brendan Fraser Wants to Be Worthy of His Comeback

“I’m aware of where I was, where I went and where I am now,” says the actor, who is nominated for an Oscar for his remarkable comeback in “The Whale.”

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In a portrait in a darkened space with light above, Brendan Fraser is wearing sunglasses and a suit and tie. One arm is extended toward the light.

By Kyle Buchanan

Once upon a time, when a gigantic Marlboro Man was perched in front of the Chateau Marmont and a three-course meal for two still cost well under a hundred bucks at Spago, Brendan Fraser arrived in Hollywood ready to conquer it and found, with some surprise, that the place didn’t put up a fight. Movie stardom came a little too easily to the young, strapping Canadian, and he knows that now, because he’s since been through passages of life that proved much harder.

“I’ve been driving around, looking at this town I used to live in,” Fraser, now 54, told me recently in Los Angeles, “and it’s like seeing ghosts of myself, the recollections that come back.”

He remembers the excitement of the 1990s, when he hit it big with lead roles in films like “ Encino Man ” and “ School Ties ,” swung through the trees as the amiably hunky “ George of the Jungle ,” and engaged in dashing feats of derring-do in “ The Mummy .” But he was perceived less as a serious actor and more as a handsome goof. And as Fraser’s big-screen comedies began to pay fewer dividends in the 2000s, he contended with a series of offscreen difficulties, including a costly divorce, injuries incurred from years of grueling stunt work, and a sexual assault that he said was committed by the former Golden Globes boss Philip Berk and that caused him to withdraw from the spotlight. (Berk has denied the accusation.)

In 2020, the director Darren Aronofsky stumbled upon an old movie trailer featuring Fraser and felt the actor was ripe for reclamation: He offered Fraser the lead role in “ The Whale ,” based on the play by Samuel D. Hunter, about Charlie, an obese professor who has withdrawn from the world but is trying to make things right with his estranged daughter (Sadie Sink). To play Charlie, Fraser consulted with the Obesity Action Coalition and donned a prosthetic suit so heavy that it had to be filled with tubes of cold water to regulate his body temperature. “It was a fusion of man and machine, in a way,” he said.

Fraser’s performance in “The Whale” has earned him  an Oscar nomination and a Screen Actors Guild Award for best actor, and later this year, he’ll be seen in Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon,” proving his prestige comeback is no one-off. “If directors are painters and actors are the different colors, there hasn’t been a color like Brendan on the palette for a very long time,” Aronofsky said. “I’m really, really proud that he’s getting what he deserved.”

In person, Fraser is so courtly and soft-spoken that simply munching on a salad opposite him can make you feel as if you’re crashing cymbals together. When I met him at a West Hollywood hotel restaurant in mid-February, he spoke with humility about the awards-season arc that has made him a Hollywood star again: “I’ll take nothing for granted, knowing how far-reaching this journey has been.”

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Here are edited excerpts from our conversation.

As this awards season goes on, have you gotten to know your fellow nominees?

Yeah, and to have a profound respect for one another, too, knowing that we’re all sort of on the same gantlet course or boot camp: Jump, crawl, swim, sharks, barbed wire, do it again! I feel a camaraderie, and I was delighted to see Ke [Huy Quan] again because the last time I saw him was many years ago and we worked together on “Encino Man.” I was effusive and I said, “We’re still here.” He said, “That’s right, we are.” I’m so pleased to see his resurgence.

How does it feel to be making these acceptance speeches and bear witness to so many tributes?

I’m having a repetition of out-of-body experiences, pinching myself: Is this really happening to me? My obligation is to take ownership of this wave of generosity and support. It’s really boggling my mind and I’m so grateful for it, but I’d be remiss to not acknowledge it properly.

In what way do you need to take ownership of all these events?

I just need to be worthy of them because I’m aware of where I was, where I went and where I am now. At the same time, I’m reticent to become overconfident about anything because I’ve been on the merry-go-round a number of times, and I know that if you’re too comfortable, you can become complacent. That’s when you get into trouble and let your standards lower and let things slide that otherwise would be really concerning to you.

“The Whale” required you to wear extensive prosthetics. How does that affect the way you give a performance?

I knew it’s essentially mask work. I knew that it would be uncomfortable. So what? I knew that I would need to be really patient to stay hooked into the scenes that we were playing while they made adjustments between takes. And Darren likes to shoo t a lot of takes. So I had to be like a horse I used to have that was just so sanguine. You could tack him up, brush him, smack the flies on him, and he would never jump. You’ve got to stand still and just take it, be patient and don’t bite or kick anyone because they’re there to help you. Then you let that all go and do what you need to.

How did you prepare for the film?

The Obesity Action Coalition gave me access to many people, so I could ask them their story on Zoom calls. I talked to maybe eight or 10 people — some bedridden, some perfectly mobile — and asked them, “Walk me through your diet for a day.” And they would describe it to me in [the] way a person drinks, a person uses substances, sex, gambling addiction. Self-medicating by eating is all in the same wheelhouse of that behavior, a cycle of risk, reward, risk, reward, pleasure me, pleasure me. We humans, shaved apes, can’t not press the button. That happens in the same way neurologically as it does for people who have those other vices as a crutch in their life, so if they deserve your sympathy, so does a person who has the temerity to just exist in a body that’s enormous. I say that cynically.

What of yourself did you bring to Charlie?

I know what it feels like to be the brunt of a joke that’s mean. You’re looking at a guy who has been compared against an example of myself from 25 years ago in a loincloth. That’s salacious and sells copies of the Daily Mail, but to hell with the consequences of who might be the human being on the receiving end of that kind of scorn and derision. Guess what? It’s not nice. I have feelings. I can identify with the constant harangue that people who live in oversized bodies have to endure in their daily life. They become overlooked by doctors, they don’t get the same attention. That really does play at your confidence, and it can lead to more harmful behavior. It’s a health consequence that is essentially eradicated if we just stop being mean to one another.

How did you feel on the final day of filming?

The last time I took this makeup off, I became really emotional. I know it’s a little woo-woo actor-y, but it wasn’t lost on me that I could remove the costuming and the people who live in that body can’t. I felt hopeful that I hadn’t cheated them by pretending to be who they were in a way that wasn’t helpful, but I really did feel like I was saying goodbye to a guy I knew in a very personal way.

Also, after having played this part, I felt like it gave me a salvation. It let me present myself again to an industry that, if you’re out of sight, you’re out of mind. We all grow older, we all change — less hair, different body. I wanted to play Charlie so that I could lean into all of that and embrace it, to suck the oxygen out of the bullying voices that maybe I imagined would disapprove. I’ll be honest with you, I do feel a sense of redeeming myself for being able to deliver a performance that both reinvents who I am and pays tribute to everything that was overlooked about how I formerly existed professionally.

You said you don’t want to take this current moment for granted. Did you used to?

I’m sure I became complacent. That’s what I mean when I say I don’t want to become too comfortable with this.

You were landing lead roles pretty much as soon as you got to Hollywood. I can see how you would have gotten comfortable.

I know, and I was ignorant. I felt like Chauncey Gardiner : I didn’t know I couldn’t walk on the water, why did someone not tell me? Funny, because those are the kind of roles I was playing, too: They were fish out of water, they were babes in the woods, and that was me.

What did acting mean to you in your early 20s? Does it mean something different to you now?

Back then, it was life and death. Those are the stakes of a young person’s ambition. But at the moment, I feel like I got nothing to prove. For everything that I did to create this character, I’m all out of moves. If it didn’t land, then I seriously don’t know what I’m doing — that’s how I felt at the end of it.

So how does it feel to know that it landed?

Gratifying, and it feels like it’s doing some good. After Toronto [the September film festival], one of the guys from the O.A.C. wrote to me and said the film moved him and he firmly believes that this character will save someone’s life, if not many. I know the response has been varied — pro, con, all of that, and I embrace the controversy — but in the press, a man who hadn’t even seen the film yet said, “That’s my story.” [Like Charlie], he does hide from his co-workers and students with the computer. He does have a strained relationship with his child. He can’t leave his house for fear of ridicule, and he can’t breathe properly for the weight that his body carries.

To have that acknowledgment and to have this guy say something to the effect of, “I am inspired now to change my ways,” I mean, what do you say to that other than, Mission accomplished? We make movies to entertain and to enlighten, but every now and then, maybe one of them comes along and can actually do something to change the culture or to change the way we think, if only for a little while. And I’m lucky to be in this one.

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The Whale collapses under its own weight

Brendan Fraser as Charlie engages in a comfort eating as an extreme sport

Multimedia Journalist

Darren Aronofsky's one-note opera of misery will leave you with a queasy feeling

Brendan Fraser plays a man eating his pain in the latest from Hollywood extremist Darren Aronofsky. Fraser has been nominated for an Oscar for his role as Charlie, a mild-mannered English teacher who gives online lectures.

However, he never turns on his own camera during these video sessions because Charlie is also morbidly obese and doesn’t want his students to see his sorry state. Wearing a very convincing fat suit, one-time action hero Fraser is beached on a sofa that can barely support his weight. He is housebound and suffers a minor heart attack in the first few minutes of The Whale .

He is wallowing in an ocean of sorrow after the death of his lover, for whom he left his family, and is now desperate to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Ellie ( Stranger Things star Sadie Sink).

Deep in mourning, he now engages in what can only be described as comfort eating as an extreme sport. We see Charlie gorge on double pizzas topped with mayo, inhale meatball subs, and chomp manically on chocolate. All that’s missing is John Cleese standing by to offer him a "waafer-thin mint".

the essay from the whale movie

In between those sessions with his students (they are, of course, studying Moby-Dick ), he lives in a twilight world interrupted only by house calls from his tough cookie of a nurse Liz (a great Hong Chau) and nightly deliveries of pizza. And then, into his orbit, crashes Thomas (Ty Simpkins), a twitchy Christian evangelist who exhorts Charlie to save himself and the flamboyantly obnoxious Ellie, who only deigns to visit so her dad can help with her own school essay assignments.

Loyal to its stage play origins, The Whale is set in two gloomy rooms. Outside the front door that Charlie never passes, it looks like the world is ending and an oppressive orchestral score strikes up every few minutes to remind us that, yes, we are watching something terribly profound. Charlie’s visitors are like ghosts appearing at his deathbed.

the essay from the whale movie

There are strong performances from Fraser (his fat suit deserves a Best Supporting Actor nod) and Chau and while we are being invited to gaze in morbid fascination and wonder how somebody can plummet to such lows, Charlie is the only person in this shrill spectacle who maintains any actual dignity.

It’s overcooked and hammy (with extra cheese and pepperoni) and while Fraser survives with his reputation intact, this attempt at an unflinching portrait of self-destruction sees Aronofsky once again biting off more than he can chew.

Alan Corr @CorrAlan

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Reflection on The Movie Whale Rider


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the essay from the whale movie


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‘The Whale’ movie review: Brendan Fraser magnificently rescues this maudlin, over-cooked tale

There are no easy answers in ‘the whale,’ which is unrelenting in its gaze at the pettiness that makes us human.

February 04, 2023 04:59 pm | Updated 08:52 pm IST

Mini Anthikad Chhibber

Brandan Fraser in ‘The Whale’

The decidedly hard-to-watch The Whale begins with an essay on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick being read aloud to a morbidly obese English teacher, Charlie (Brendan Fraser), who seems to be having a heart attack. Incidentally, the full title of Melville’s 1851 novel is Moby Dick; or, The Whale . Charlie asks Thomas, (Ty Simpkins) a proselytising missionary who comes upon Charlie in the middle of his attack, to read the essay out loud to him.

The essay speaks sympathetically of the whale as being just a huge, dumb animal, and Ahab (the sailor hunting Moby Dick) for believing his life will become better if he is able to kill the whale. The essay also talks of the so-called boring bits which is just about whales, but posits the theory that the author is using those bits to camouflage his sad life for a while.

There have been many learned treatises on Moby Dick and as many adaptations, including the one about the mean white shark troubling the good people of Amity Island. Yes, Jaws was about a shark, but it definitely counts old Moby as its forebear.   

It is difficult to ignore Melville’s great American novel in Darren Aronofsky’s latest film as it is thrown at our faces so many times. Adapted by Samuel D. Hunter from his eponymous 2012 play, The Whale is set in Charlie’s apartment as he seems determined to eat his way to an early death, much to the dismay of Liz (Hong Chau), his nurse and friend.

Though suffering from high blood pressure and congestive heart disease, Charlie refuses to go to hospital as he does not have medical insurance. He teaches English online with the camera off. Charlie wishes a rapprochement with his 17-year-old daughter, Ellie (Sadie Sink), who he abandoned nine years ago.

There are no easy answers in The Whale , which is unrelenting in its gaze at the pettiness that makes us human. Ellie is angry and lashes out at everyone as a way to assuage her hurt for Charlie’s abandonment. She is the whirling dervish to Charlie’s still centre. Charlie tries to bury his grief of losing his lover in a suicidal hunger. Thomas on the surface seems to have found the answers in Jesus, but obviously has not fully comprehended Christ’s message of unconditional love. 

The maudlin, over-cooked tale is magnificently rescued by the acting. While Fraser, creates a sympathetic living portrait of Charlie — where you can see the man beneath the prosthetics — that the camera leers at constantly, Chau quietly shines as Liz. Sink has the easiest role and maxes it, while Samantha Morton is riveting as always as Mary, Ellie’s mum and Charlie’s ex-wife.

While what The Whale seems to be saying is ambiguously troubling, the performances make the movie worth plunging into.

The Whale is currently running in theatres

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    The movie has Brendan Fraser in an Oscar and Golden Globe nominated role, as a teacher who battles with an eating disorder that has left him at over 600 pounds and on the verge of death. All he wants in life is to reconcile with his daughter and possibly help her, knowing she has a hard life of her own.

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    The Whale plot summary: We meet Charlie (Brendan Fraser) as he is giving a virtual lecture for an online college English course. He keeps his camera off, telling his students that his webcam is...

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    It's easy to get swept up in the emotions of Darren Aronofsky 's searing drama The Whale, which follows Brendan Fraser as Charlie, a reclusive, 600-pound literature professor struggling, in the...

  7. What happens in THE WHALE. An essay on the film from Darren…

    When The Whale opens, it immediately apologizes for its aspect ratio, while at the same time letting the decision explain itself: what you are about to see will be a reduction of a life into a square box. A single black square bears the emblem, "Instructor," among a sea of squares containing faces. The voice of Brendan Fraser combines with ...

  8. The Whale movie review & film summary (2022)

    The message "The Whale" sends us home with seems to be: Thank God that's not us. In working from Samuel D. Hunter's script, based on Hunter's stage play, Aronofsky doesn't appear to be as interested in understanding these impulses and indulgences as much as pointing and staring at them.

  9. Religious Trauma and All-Consuming Grief: The Unbearable Sadness of

    watch now. There's a deep, ineffable sadness and claustrophobia that infuses every frame of The Whale, the entirety of the film transpiring almost exclusively within the confines of Charlie's dark, cluttered house. When the film opens with a zoom session of Charlie's writing class, his camera is expectedly turned off, ostensibly broken.

  10. The Whale (2022 film)

    The Whale is a 2022 American psychological drama film directed by Darren Aronofsky and written by Samuel D. Hunter, based on his 2012 play of the same name. [5] It stars Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, Ty Simpkins, and Samantha Morton.

  11. Essay: Movie Analysis

    Text preview of this essay: This page of the essay has 3,194 words. Download the full version above. This paper explores family's structure of the movie 'The Squid and the Whale' by Noah Baumbach including with relationship, personalities and characteristics of each family members, important demographic characteristics such as ...


    The film begins with somebody getting off a bus and walking down a long road. Not far from there, an English college professor named Charlie (Brendan Fraser) is giving a lecture to his students via webcam, but he pretends that his camera doesn't work so that his students will not see his appearance.

  13. The Movie The Whale Rider History Essay

    The Movie The Whale Rider History Essay. Whale rider is a 2002 drama film directed by Niki Caro, based on the novel of the same name by Witi Ihimaera.the film stars Keisha castle-Hughes as kahu piakea apirana,a 12years old Maori girl who wants to become the chief of the tribe. Her grandfather koro believes that this is a role reserved for males ...

  14. The Whale: Cast, Plot, Release Date, and Everything We Know So Far

    That movie is The Whale, the story of a six-hundred-pound man based on the stage play of the same name and starring Brendan Fraser in the lead role, making this another major get for the actor...

  15. How Brendan Fraser's Character in The Whale Confronts Out Issue with

    After a five-year hiatus, The Whale signified director Darren Aronofsky's return to cinematic production. Based on the play of the same name by playwright Samuel D. Hunter, The Whale explores ...

  16. 2023 SAG Awards: Brendan Fraser Wins For 'The Whale'

    The actor took home the award for best male leading actor for 'The Whale' at the 29th annual ceremony. Brendan Fraser won best male actor in a leading role for his performance in The Whale at the ...

  17. 'The Whale' Script: Read Samuel D. Hunter's Screenplay For Brendan

    Aronofsky told the Deadline Studio in Toronto where the film was in the lineup that he spent 10 years searching for the actor to play Charlie, describing the process as the "biggest hurdle" to...

  18. Brendan Fraser Wants to Be Worthy of His Comeback

    In 2020, the director Darren Aronofsky stumbled upon an old movie trailer featuring Fraser and felt the actor was ripe for reclamation: He offered Fraser the lead role in "The Whale," based on ...

  19. The Whale Rider Movie Theology Religion Essay

    His leadership style is Authoritarian autocratic. This style is used when leaders advise their employees what they want completed and how they want it capable, without getting the advice of their foll

  20. The Whale movie review : The Whale collapses under its own weight

    The Whale collapses under its own weight. Updated / Sunday, 5 Feb 2023 14:56. Brendan Fraser as Charlie engages in a comfort eating as an extreme sport. By Alan Corr. Multimedia Journalist ...

  21. Reflection on The Movie Whale Rider

    Download Print. The movie Whale Rider came out in 2002. This story starts with the born of two resemble children. The son and his mom died. The only daughter survives, and his name is Pai. Her father name is Porourangi and he leaves New Zealand and his girl grown up by her grandparents. Koro is the main of their community folks and his son ...

  22. Mozart And The Whale Movie Essay

    The Chosen movie is Mozart and the Whale (2005), based on the life of mathematical talent Jerry Newport and his wife, a couple with Asperger syndrome (. The movie discussed the daily life of two people with Aspergers Syndrome (Donald and Isabella) and how they are facing various challenges. This movie represents autism from a different prism.

  23. 'The Whale' movie review: Brendan Fraser magnificently rescues this

    The decidedly hard-to-watch The Whale begins with an essay on Herman Melville's Moby Dick being read aloud to a morbidly obese English teacher, Charlie (Brendan Fraser), who seems to be having a ...

  24. Harkins Theatres

    Cast. Samantha Morton, Ty Simpkins, Hong Chau, Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink. Distributor. A24. Synopsis. From Darren Aronofsky comes The Whale, the story of a reclusive English teacher living with severe obesity who attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption. Starring Brendan Fraser and based on ...