In Darren Aronofsky’s new film The Whale, Moby D**k gets referenced a lot, but its subject isn’t an actual whale. Charlie (Brendan Fraser), the protagonist, is rather a monstrous human leviathan whose massiveness can easily disgust others, much like the monstrously-deformed John Merrick, who was depicted in David Lynch’s 1980 film The Elephant Man. Merrick had to live masked and wrapped in canvas so as not to shock people.
Charles is wrapped up in his own canvas: He is an English teacher who conducts his classes online, purposefully blacking out his camera so that his happy, upbeat counseling voice is all that his students know of him.
If Jonah was swallowed by a whale and then became stuck in its stomach, Charlie’s house is a kind of stomach isolating him from the...