The Whale | Questions and Answers

In this section of our Colossus Movie Guide for The Whale, we answer questions you have about the movie. If you’re curious about plot explanations, meanings, themes, lessons, motifs, symbols, or just confused by something, ask and we’ll do our best to answer.


  • Charlie – Brendan Fraser
  • Ellie – Sadie Sink
  • Mary – Samantha Morton
  • Liz – Hong Chau
  • Thomas – Ty Simpkins
  • Written by – Samuel D. Hunter
  • Based on the play – The Whale
  • Directed by – Darren Aronofsky

The Whale | Questions and Answers

Is Ellie really evil?

I don’t think Ellie’s evil in the way that Michael Myers is evil, though Mary seems to think so. But Ellie is very cruel. Her Facebook post about Charlie is pretty mean. Her breaking the plate that has the bird food—jerk move. Her taking the video of Thomas and sending it to his church—terrible. 

Thematically, though, there’s more going on. The Whale explores ideas of honesty and deceit. Especially self-deception. So even though you can perceive what Ellie’s doing as cruel, she’s often cutting through the lies we tell others and ourselves and getting at the truth of a situation. Which can hurt and create conflict. But as we see: that conflict is sometimes the thing we need the most to move beyond stagnation. 

What is the opening scene?

It’s Thomas getting off the bus from Iowa and deciding to start his missionary work. 

Is The Whale connected to other Aronofsky movies like The Wrestler or Black Swan?

Narrative-wise, absolutely not. But there are similar themes. All three of those films end with the main character giving their life in some cathartic final act. It’s just The Wrestler and Black Swan focus on performance and the demands of high performance. The Whale doesn’t share that concern. With that said, all three movies deal with parent/child relationships, redemption, and self-destruction. And all end in very similar ways. So there is a conversation to be had, especially in terms of Aronofsky’s filmography. I just don’t think The Whale should be looked at as part of a thematic trilogy with Black Swan and The Wrestler

What questions do you have?

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