Patrick and the Whale | Toronto International Film Festival 2022 | Review


Mark Fletcher's theatrical debut, Patrick and the Whale, is remarkable. From the opening sequence starring the documentary's subject, Patrick Dykstra and the whales he has come to know like family, it is clear that the documentary is a love story both in theme and production process. Fletcher is humble, introducing the film at its TIFF World Premiere by crediting the whales as co-directors, acknowledging that they had an ultimate say on where the story went.

At a crowd-pleasing 72 minutes, the producers mention that the festival cut could easily not be the final film citing an additional 50 minutes they think would work perfectly, but what a fine production Fletcher has made.

It's ultimately a story of friendship and, in its own way, a sci-fi film. The shots captured do not feel real. They are close to nature in ways we have not seen before and will likely wait a long time to see again. The intimacy built between Dykstra and the whales feels human. He acknowledges their autonomy and treats his friends with respect, but the film does grow to become a conversation on greed and the effects that has when we take for granted the connections we curate in this life. 

As Fletcher freely states, the whales are directors of this production, thus comes the unpredictability when making films in coalition with nature. Despite this, the film is short enough to feel cohesive and unwaveringly focused, and its charm is that it manages to be educational without ever being dull. Patrick Dykstra is an encyclopedia of knowledge, but he has a way of translating that to an audience that makes it accessible. Fletcher captures the passion in Dykstra that ignites a passion in us. We embrace every inch of this story because it is so easy to love what the filmmakers have clearly loved making - we get an invite into their joy. 

It's a shame documentary is so widely disregarded outside of the "Best Documentary" categories in awards season. This film has some of the best, if not the best, cinematography of the year so far, so let this be a heads up to those with ballots this awards season: acknowledge the docs and give the credit where it's due.

Patrick and the Whale is screening at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.

For ticketing information visit

Post a Comment

My Instagram

Copyright © Cinematic Faves. Made with by OddThemes . Distributed by Weblyb