The Whale Official Poster

The Whale Ending Explained

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According to our Scopo-Meter, we check the following in The Whale:

Category Out Of 5
PLOT 4.9

FilmScopes thank the creators of the movie for teaching us that it is not too late for making things right in our lives.


A story that explores the human desire to be free from the guilt and regret of wasting one’s life, The Whale draws us into the reclusive and self-destructive life of an obese Bisexual man named Charlie.

The plot of The Whale never seems unusual or unique because it is just the same old formula of estrangement that involves a father wanting to bridge the gap between him and his child along with making sure that the latter is away from harm.


A Confined World


A plus sized man looking through a window
Charlie looking at the birds through the window


Darren Aronosfky’s decision to keep the aspect ratio 4:3 for the movie seems apt so that we are provided with a sense of confinement and a claustrophobic setting for the world. This was to give us an idea of how Charlie’s world is confined within his apartment and how claustrophobic he feels in his physical state.

His daily routine includes him feeling hopeless and coping with his grief of losing his lover by binge-eating almost everything he finds. Along with all of this, he wants to reconnect with his estranged daughter Ellie who he left when she was 8 years old.


Dealing With Loss And Regret


A man crying
Brendan Fraser as Charlie


The Whale makes you introspect on the complexities a person faces while dealing with a personal loss, not knowing how to process the pain, and every ounce of hope is squeezed out. Charlie is that person who is living in a state of reclusiveness and feels a deep sadness about losing his partner, along with feeling extreme guilt and regret for not being there for his daughter.

He believes that his current state is a punishment for his selfishness and chooses to accept his fate by carrying on with his mundane life. His obesity acts as a metaphor for the emotional pain he has kept within himself and his inability to move on.

The physical state has led to him being at severe risk of succumbing to heart failure but Charlie already seems to abandon the desire to live. Grief and guilt have consumed his hope to carry on and he seeks redemption by trying to spend more time with his daughter.

Believing that his fate is sealed, Charlie wants to leave the world by knowing that at least he “did one thing right” with his life. He is visited by his nurse and only friend Liz who repeatedly persuades him to go to the hospital but refuses.

Along with that, he is also visited and preached by a young missionary about ‘being saved’ by the Holy Spirit. But nothing seems to appeal to Charlie. He is only clinging onto the hope of reconnecting with Ellie.


The Title And Intention 


A girl reading pages
Ellie reading her essay to Charlie


You understand the intention of using this particular title of this movie when the reference to the novel “Moby Dick” is thrown in many intervals. Charlie has kept an essay related to the novel that was written by Ellie in eighth grade. The novel talks about a whale being hunted by the main character in order to attain self-fulfillment.

This applies to Charlie’s case as well where he himself is the whale and is harming himself by not going to the hospital for treatment. He is selfish about only wanting to make things right with Ellie, accompanied by his acceptance of his death by accelerating it through constant binge eating.  The essay becomes a tool for Charlie to cling to his life and fulfill his desire to seek closure. In a way, it becomes his Bible, the source of his remaining strength to live and rectify what he did.

Brendan Fraser will break your heart through his portrayal of a man who is devoid of hope and is consumed by his failures. His innately constant apologetic tone during his conversations with Liz makes you feel the extreme guilt and regret he has held onto for so many years. People were not lying when they were deemed as a performance for the ages.

The man seems to have given his all to this movie. Not for once does the movie go along the lines of being fat-phobic in nature as considered by other critics. Brendan does not make you feel hostile towards Charlie but is extremely empathetic regarding the situation he deals with. Along with him, Hong Chau as Liz and Sadie Sink as Ellie majorly contribute to the melancholic tone of the movie through their remarkable performances.


The Ending Explained


A plus sized man pointing in our direction
Charlie talking to his ex-wife Mary


In the end, I would say that The Whale has the potential to deeply move you, even make you cry, with its setting and of course Brendan Fraser. Just make sure you are in the correct headspace to watch it when you are willing to be completely invested in the storyline.

It is a well-thought-out blend of philosophy and psychological elements regarding the human coping mechanism that will stay with you in times to come.


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