Review: Fathom (Tribeca 2021)


A front-row seat to the unique work being done to better understand the communication patterns of whales, Fathom is an insightful, intriguing look at the preparation, challenges, desires, and successes of those who dedicate their lives to their studies.

The film follows two scientists across the oceans from one another as they put theories to the test in an attempt to better understand how whales interact with one another. What Fathom does so well is to represent the open-ended nature of each of the projects, both coming with no promise of success. Even as the filmmakers were present in both Alaska and French Polynesia to capture truly stunning footage, there were no guarantees. Fathom provides a look into the lives of those doing the often unseen work of, as the film refers to it, attempting to explain just one piece of the larger puzzle when it comes to understanding whales.

Most impressive, and perhaps the largest takeaway from Fathom, is the dedication and patience of those that are out in the field, sacrificing time with their families while taking chances and pursuing their passions. The filmmakers impressively weave key scientific explanations into the project in order to further the viewer’s understanding of the work, balancing such moments with a true human story that leaves you wanting to know more.

Rating: 3/5

Photo from Tribeca

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