The Whale

NZ release: 02 February 2023

Suicide themes, sexual material, drug use and offensive language Rated on: 20 December 2022

The Whale

What's it about?

The Whale is a drama film that follows Charlie, a morbidly obese and reclusive English tutor, who spends his days teaching online writing classes and ordering take-out meals. Liz, Charlie's carer and only friend, becomes gravely concerned for his health when his blood pressure skyrockets and sends him into congestive heart failure. Refusing to go to hospital, Charlie turns his attention towards Ellie, his estranged and troubled teenage daughter.

The facts

  • Directed by Darren Aronofsky
  • Runtime: 117 minutes
  • Screenwriter Samuel D. Hunter adapted the script from his 2012 play of the same name
  • Brendan Fraser and Hong Chau's performances received a host of acting awards and nominations

Why did it get this rating?

Suicide themes

There is recurring discussion of a character's suicide after being rejected by their church for being gay. The main character deals with his grief and self-loathing by binge-eating, despite being told it will kill him.

Sexual material

Sexual material is low level but clearly aimed at an adult audience. A character is briefly shown from behind as he masturbates to a pornographic video of two men. There is no nudity shown. Sexual intercourse and masturbation are discussed briefly on other occasions.

Drug use

Teenagers are shown smoking cannabis. One character has their food spiked with sleeping medicine, and another is said to have a drinking problem. The effects of regular drug use are discussed in a negative light.

Offensive language

There are several uses of the words "f*ck", "sh*t", "b*tch", and "f*ggot". The language is sometimes used in aggressive and belittling contexts.

Further information

If you or someone you know is affected by an eating disorder, there are ways to get help:

Recent featured decisions

15 March 2023

Offensive language, suicide themes

The latest Netflix docuseries attempts to uncover what really happened on March 8, 2014 and how a Boeing 777 plane could just vanish into thin air. Along with the plane, 239 passengers and crew to this day have not been found, which has fuelled conspiracy theories and challenged experts across the globe.

Read more

14 March 2023

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin

Season 1 (on DVD as "The Complete First Season")

Violence, rape themes, suicide, self-harm, sexual material & offensive language

In the small town of Milwood, Imogen, Tabby, Faran, Noa and Mouse work together to find out who “A”, their mystery stalker, is. As they dive deeper they find out the truth about a past tragedy and how their mothers were connected to what happened all those years ago.

Read more