“Not every love story is a romance,” Says the latest Netflix’s coming of age film The Half Of It. Director Alice Wu returns with her second film, which features a Chinese American protagonist and demonstrates the ups and downs of being an immigrant in a small white town. The Half Of It isn’t your typical teen Rom-Com that focuses just on high school love and heartbreak, but it comes with an LGBT twist and takes an in-depth look at human connection and desires. You can’t help but feel what these characters are going through, there’s at least one person in the film that you’ve probably experienced similar traits with.
The story takes place in small-town Squahamish, where Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) runs a business by writing her high school classmate’s essays for them under the table. She’s smarter than everyone else, even her teacher knows what she’s doing, but still encourages it because she rather read 6 different takes on Plato than what these students would actually write. Then one day, classmate Paul (Daniel Diemer) approaches Ellie to help him write a letter to Aster (Alexxis Lemire) a girl they both like. Paul has no idea of Ellie’s queerness, but the more time they spend together the more he wonders if Aster is really the one who’s right for him. He even starts to pursue his family business with his “sausage tacos” and he shares this great bond with Elle’s father and they develop a heartwarming father-friend relationship.
Meanwhile, we see Aster’s story, where she’s dating high school jock Trig (Wolfgang Novogratz), and she’s clearly tired of these surface-level relationships. When she gets Pauls letter, she finally feels understood and has someone to reference great authors, art theory, a way to escape reality.
Rather than falling in love with the characters, we see the internal journey of the characters and how the film handles the human connections that we all so desire in real life. Watching the trailer, I definitely thought this was going to be a typical LGBT girl showcasing casual racism that comes out and gets the girl in the end style movie, but that was far from it. It does tackle LGBT, Chinese stereotypes, popular kids, going to church but it tackles it in a way where you feel like none of this happening but it all goes through a monumental growth. It was special, it allows the characters to gain confidence to want more in their life.
There’s definitely ‘more than one way to love’ and we fell in love with the film in more than one way.
Check out the trailer below for The Half of It below
The Half of It now streaming on Netflix