Are you looking for the perfect movie to watch during your quarantine? Are you tired of watching the same type of movie over and over again? Have no fear, Netflix has the breath of fresh air you need. I present to you, The Half of It, starring Leah Lewis, Alexxis Lemire, and Daniel Diemer!
Director and Writer, Alice Wu, brings you a brilliant, hilarious, heart wrenching coming of age film. This movie takes your typical romantic tropes and throws them out the window. If you need some good vibes in your life, I highly suggest giving this movie a view. Now, let’s get into it!
Meet Ellie Chu
Our first introduction to the main character, Ellie Chu, starts with a voiceover.
“This is not a love story.”
The protagonist sets you up, so there are no surprises, with the ending. This is a bold move. By the end of the film, you understand why it is the best one. Ellie Chu is a high school senior in Squahemish. She is an excellent writer and a devoted daughter. Ms. Chu also happens to be quite the entrepreneur. Ellie has set up an excellent side business writing her classmates essays. Girl’s gotta own a buck.
When she isn’t helping her fellow classmates cheat, she is working at her Father’s train station, or playing the church’s organ. Poor Ellie seems to have so many responsibilities and not enough free time, for you know, fun. All that changes one day, when a boy named Paul Munsky chases after Ellie on her bike.
I Love Her
Paul is a lovable guy who recruits Ellie to write a love letter to his crush, Aster Flores. At first she turns him down, because weird… As her Father’s bills begin to pile up she realizes writing essays isn’t going to cut it. She agrees to write Paul a one time letter, for 50 dollars. This begins the most adorable and awkward friendship you have ever seen.
- After the first letter is put into Aster’s locker, Aster responds.
- Ellie begins writing many letters to her on Paul’s behalf.
- Throughout the course of the letters, a odd friendship grows between Paul and Ellie.
They find out things about each other. It takes a long time but Paul is able to break down Ellie’s walls she has built since her Mother’s passing. Paul wants to change his family’s recipes. Ellie secretly plays the guitar and wants to go to Grinell College. The two learn all about one another.
One of the best scenes in the film is a perfect representation of their friendship. They start to play ping pong together. Paul works on his conversational skills and Ellie opens up. You fall in love with the pairing, but you don’t know in what way? Friendship? Relationship? You don’t know!
Who is Aster Flores?
During the letter exchange we start to learn more about Aster Flores. Instead of being a typical popular trope, she is actually a well-rounded individual. When she has her first encounter with Ellie, we see that she is very aware of others.
Instead of declaring herself popular, she is told that she is. She dates the local jock, who is actually pretty funny and not that horrible. Her family places a lot of pressure on her. Through the letters and texts my second favorite scene unfolds.
- Aster and Ellie start texting about art.
- Aster used to paint all the time, but stopped.
- Ellie entices her to pick it up again.
Ellie gives Aster directions to a blank wall and leaves paint next to it. The two start adding strokes each day, until Ellie stops. The final addition Aster made, in Ellie’s eyes is perfect. So now you find yourself rooting for Aster and Ellie. (In all honesty a lot more than Aster and Paul or Paul and Ellie.)
I’m so stupid
You spend a good chunk of this movie trying to figure out who anyone will end up with. When you aren’t thinking about that you are invested in each of them. Finally, you realize no matter what happens, you just want them to be okay.
Then a totally intense scene happens and you figure out everything! We spend a lot of time watching television and movies these days. The downside of this is films begin to have a lesser impact on your mind and heart. It takes a special kind of scene to effect you. The hot springs scene, is that scene!
Aster asks Ellie if she wants to hang out. Aster takes Ellie to her favorite secret place, a hot spring. The two get into the hot spring. This is a scene you really need to watch, not be told about. After this scene, the film shifts. Paul finds out that Ellie has a crush on Aster.
He feels betrayed, hurt, and disgusted. Yup, you heard that correctly, disgusted. Over the course of the movie the church has been in the background. The reason behind this comes to fruition.
“You have a crush on Aster. But being Gay is a sin.”
As far as responses go, it couldn’t have been worse. Ellie runs away from him.
I’ll see you in two years.
This movie has my emotions all over the place. Who am I rooting for? Why am I rooting for them? Will they ever be friends again? Who will Aster choose? I don’t know! It all boils down to the Church Scene.
The church scene is a powerful one. Paul forgives and accepts Ellie. Aster finds out Ellie was the person behind the letters and the texts. She doesn’t handle it well. Aster slaps Paul and turns her back on Ellie. You can’t even be mad at her, because they both deceived her.
A few days later Ellie and Aster run into each other. At this time Ellie’s words ring in your ear.
“This is not a love story.”
You think you are ready for it. You’re not. The two make their peace, with one another. Aster tells Ellie to give her a couple of years to figure herself out. Ellie leads her by stating she won’t. Then the magic happens. Ellie starts to walk away. She stops, turns around, runs up to Aster and kisses her.
“See you in two years.”
Aster, like the rest of us are shocked. I think my jaw is still on the floor somewhere. Ellie walks away smiling. This film is about friendship and coming to terms with who you are. It was brilliant, refreshing, and in desperate need of a sequel! Just saying… #AsterandEllie. Thank you Alice Wu and crew for bringing this story to our screens!