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:

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