'The Whale': Charming tale about Luna surfaces
A movie review of "The Whale," a charming, fictionlike documentary narrated by Ryan Reynolds that deals with a young orca who becomes friendly with humans when he loses track of his family in Puget Sound.
Special to The Seattle Times
'The Whale,' a documentary narrated by Ryan Reynolds. Directed by Suzanne Chisholm and Michael Parfit. 83 minutes. Rated G. SIFF Cinema at McCaw Hall; Grand Cinema, Tacoma.
What's the difference between a Spielbergian E.T. and a young orca who loses his family in Puget Sound and just wants to find his way home?
Not much, claim the creators of a charming Canadian documentary, "The Whale," which follows a male orca, Luna, as he gradually turns receptive humans into substitutes for family. In footage the filmmakers shot over several years, Luna behaves like an especially aggressive "problem kid."
He's also so adorable that few can resist his invitations to cavort in the water, using sticks and hoses and other playthings as he approaches several boats. While he may have plenty to eat, he's always hungry for connection and affection.
Unfortunately, if you become too friendly, you could make the creature more vulnerable. As far as the Canadian government is concerned, he's such a bother that humans are (theoretically) fined $100,000 just for looking at him (in reality, it's closer to $100). Apparently you're guilty if you so much as make eye contact with Luna.
The government is partly responsible for creating a no-win situation. You're damned if you pay attention to Luna, and damned if you don't play with him.
It's a dilemma the filmmakers face repeatedly — and especially whenever harbor police turn up on the water. While there have been other orcas who latched on to humans, the government still has trouble dealing with creatures who try to "break the wall" between whales and humans.
"The Whale" is narrated by Ryan Reynolds, who grew up in Canada (he and Scarlett Johansson are listed among the film's executive producers) and adds a wryly personal touch to the early scenes. It was photographed by the film's co-directors, Michael Parfit and Suzanne Chisholm, whose previous credits include several National Geographic projects.
Emphasizing the rough, chilly beauty of the west coast of Vancouver Island, they've created a gorgeous and provocative film that consistently rises above its Flipper-ish genre.
John Hartl: firstname.lastname@example.org
Trending on seattletimes.com
Most viewed photo galleries
The Morning Memo
The Morning Memo jump starts your day with weather, traffic and news
The Seattle Times photographs
Purchase The Seattle Times images
Autos news and research