WHALES is a moody, psychological thriller about two sisters navigating their darkly entangled past, and the lasting impact of family secrets.
W hen her estranged father dies, rising women’s rights attorney Margot is sent to the family’s ancestral home on the idyllic Italian island of Elba to handle his affairs. There, she is unexpectedly reunited with her volatile and mysterious sister Louise, a free-spirited drifter who ran away in high school. Separated by the passing of time and upbringings in different countries, yet both haunted by their shared past, the sisters are soon relinked by the forces of trauma and lingering memory.
Margot struggles to pack and sell a house that no one seems to want, encountering rumours all over the island and conflicting portraits of her father at every turn. Margot’s husband Johnny arrives on the island to help, followed by Linda the mercurial matriach, upending the sisters’ tenuous reunion. Soon, private agendas and entrenched denials cause mistrust and competition to ripple out across the family, pitting Margot against the destructive Louise. When Louise’s dangerous and unpredictable behaviour threatens to destroy the fragile life Margot has forged, Margot must finally confront a painful family secret.
By Nora Jaenicke
With Whales audiences will experience the richness of an intimate and classic family drama along with the suspense of a psychological thriller.
The film explores the theme of what is true and false, what is real and what is fake — questions that are incredibly pressing and relevant to the world we are living in.
Each one of the film’s characters has his or her own version of the truth. The colliding of all these truths is what I find the most fascinating.
Much like in films by European directors such as Francois Ozon and Michelangelo Antonioni, the story will unfold in a way that creates visible tension and a moody atmospheric blend of anxious uncertainty and mystery.
Each character will be approached with the astute and affectionate observations one might find in the dysfunctional families of Noah Baumbach’s films. This will also allow for humor and levity, and for audiences to experience the heart and soul of each character.
While treating violent emotions and sexual tension with subtlety, the film will feel extreme in the way that productions of Ibsen tend to do.
Whales’ well dressed and well behaved protagonists will stop at nothing to colonize one another with a tenacity that borders on the savage.