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10 Movies Like The Whale You Must See

December 31, 2022

Based on the play of the same name by Samuel D. Hunter, The Whale tells the story of Charlie trying to reach his estranged teenage daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink). Charlie (Brendan Fraser) is an obese English teacher who prefers to live a life of solitude. The psychodrama film revolves around the reconciliation between a father and his daughter.

Charlie’s hardships are central to the story as he feels ashamed and seeks redemption for his past actions. After the death of his partner, he gains weight, which is a way for him to cope with his grief. If you want to watch movies that deal with themes like parent-child reconciliation and the struggle with body image, then the following suggestions are perfect for you. You can watch most of these movies similar to The Whale on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.

10. Heathers (1989)

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Directed by Michael Lehmann, Heathers is a drama that tells the story of Veronica and her inner demons. Her life takes a murderous turn when she fights a gang of popular Heathers at school. Martha is another student at Veronica’s school who is overweight and tired of being bullied about it. She saves Martha from herself and seeks revenge for the inhumane treatment they both suffered from the popular girls and athletes.

There may not be any obvious similarities between The Whale and Heathers, but Charlie and Martha share the basic embarrassment of being overweight. Plus, both of them feel better about having someone who sees beyond their looks and understands the people inside them.

9. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

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Imagine the situation of an older brother who has to take care of his younger brother who is mentally handicapped and his mother who is extremely obese. That’s what Gilbert’s life is about. When he falls in love with Becky, he must decide which path to take.

On the one hand Gilbert’s family needs him, on the other hand he needs to follow his heart and be with the woman he loves. The drama What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, based on the novel by Peter Hedges, was directed by Lasse Hallström. It highlights the difficult choice that anyone can face in life. Gilbert’s mother’s struggles are similar to Charlie’s in The Whale.

8 Affliction (1997)

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Wade Whitehouse is on a mission to solve a case. His past is corrupt, his private life is chaotic. The case is Wade’s lifeline as it can help him get his life back on track. In his obsession with this case, he forgets his family and everything else. Wade has no support from anyone in his life or at his place of work. He also tries to get in touch with his daughter Jill despite being pressured by his personal conflicts.

Wade’s remedies seem self-destructive, and eventually he rises above them to better himself. Directed by Paul Schrader, the drama Affliction has more in common with The Whale than just the genre. Both Charlie’s and Wade’s lives are about to fall apart. This makes their search for redemption even stronger.

7. The Wrestlers (2008)

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‘The Wrestler’ is another film directed by Darren Aronofsky. Randy is the director’s first attempt to portray a self-destructive character who’s fed up. After retiring from wrestling, Randy is living off what’s left of his fame. Meanwhile, he tries to shake hands with his estranged daughter to put things right.

Randy is desperate to have something meaningful in his life, something worth living for. Ultimately, however, he must accept his fate and make peace with the life he has led. Both aspects, a distant daughter and a renegade streak in the main character, are common to Randy and Charlie.

6. Precious (2009)

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Precious is a drama film based on author Sapphire’s first novel, Push, and chronicles the traumatic journey of the title character. After being abused and raped by her own father, Precious becomes pregnant and her life spirals out of control. At the tender age of 16, she must face the harsh consequences of someone else’s actions. Also, her mother is also abusive and ignorant.

When Precious sees a chance to break out of her hellish life, she seizes it and finds an amazing mentor. Directed by Lee Daniels, Precious and The Whale have a few things in common. The two overweight and obese protagonists share how unkind life has been to them. Even though their struggles are different, life leaves them both desolate.

5. The Father (2020)

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Directed by Florian Zeller, Der Vater tells the story of a tireless man who, even in old age, still tries to get by on his own. The French director made the psychological drama based on her play Le Père. Anthony rejects the efforts of his daughter Anne, who offers him help and support. Suffering from dementia, he begins to lose all sense of reality as his brain becomes muddled.

The film beautifully depicts the relationship between a stubborn father and a daughter who is willing to do anything for her father. A similar father-daughter relationship unfolds between Ellie and Charlie in the film The Whale. In both films, the father’s hardships are at the center of the narrative.

4. Fat (2013)

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Written and directed by Mark Phinney, Fat explores the difficulties of weight and addiction in Ken’s life. Compulsive eating and declining health paved the way for Ken to die early. The film drama reflects the consequences of food addiction and stubbornness, which lead to no change.

However, during a chance encounter with another human being, Ken finds his perspective changing. His overeating and failure to find love eventually bring him to the brink of collapse. Both films, Fat and The Whale, are about overweight protagonists who do everything in their power to accept their reality or change it entirely. Also, both Ken and Charlie are saddened by the lack of love in their lives.

3. My So-Called Father (2014)

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My So-Called Father asks viewers a fundamental question – he asks them to think about the future when their parents forget who they are. The Swedish drama film by director Ulf Malmros shows the turbulent journey of a daughter who wants to help her father regain his memory. The two may have become estranged, but their love for one another is heartwarming and beautiful.

With Vera Vitali and Michael Nyqvist in the leading roles, the film describes their fate in a poignant way. The Whale also follows the relationship between a father and daughter in a life-changing situation. It also follows an estranged father and his daughter’s journey to reconciliation.

2. The Squid and the Whale (2005)

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In the comedy film The Squid and the Whale, the Berkman family must deal with the fallout of their family breakup. The film by Noah Baumbach explores the facets of children’s lives that are changed by the separation of their parents. Their disjointed life hides beneath the facade of perfection, but digging further reveals problems that lie deeper.

The resulting trauma and emotions of the Berkman children are also described. Just as Ellie’s parents get separated in The Whale, so do the Bermans. Also, Ellie faces most of the problems the Berkman kids experience because of their broken home.

1. Ikiru (1952)

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Director Akira Kurosawa explores the theme of peaceful acceptance of death in this drama film. The discovery of cancer causes a man named Kanji Watanabe to reconsider his actions and seek a better way. The Japanese drama film follows his quest for redemption before he dies. He reconciles with his son and daughter-in-law, but is faced with severe pain.

Eventually Kanji decides to make others happy and to that end builds a happy playground for underprivileged children. The film is based on The Death of Ivan Ilyich, a short story by Leo Tolstoy. And not only that: Ikiru is a Japanese term that means life. Charlie and Kanji are in the same situation when they realize that death is near. The two protagonists struggle with a similar inner conflict and are looking for redemption.