Netflix coming-of-age film hits the mark

Alice Webster, Student Editor

Netflix has released many coming-of-age movies. Some like Tall Girl and The Kissing Booth have been widely panned by critics and enjoyed mainly for their absurdity, while others like Dumplin and Seventeen have been applauded for their realistic portrayal of young adulthood. New film The Half of It, written and directed by Alice Wu, joins the latter rank.

The premise of The Half of It is reminiscent of Cyrano de Bergerac in that nerdy Ellie Chu, played by Leah Lewis, agrees to help football player Paul Munsky, played by Daniel Diemer, woo the local pastor’s daughter Aster Flores, played by Alexxis Lemire. Although there is a love triangle aspect to the story, the main focus is on the developing friendship between Ellie and Paul. Their relationship is played perfectly by Chu and Diemer from the beginning when Ellie is reluctant to open up to their adorable final scene. Paul encourages Ellie to perform in a school talent show while Ellie encourages Paul’s attempts to get recognition for his cooking endeavors. 

Another focal point of the story is the loneliness Ellie feels because she and her father are the only Asians in their small town of Squahamish. Ellie faces daily jabs from her classmates, who nickname her “Ellie Choo-Choo” because her father runs the railroad station. She later reveals that her father has a PhD in engineering but cannot find a better job because of his broken English. Because they do not have a car, Ellie and her father are unable to shop at the nearest Asisn grocery, which she tells Paul is three hours away by bike. These elements all contribute to Ellie feeling stifled yet unable to leave Squahamish due to her father when he steps in to assure her and remind her of why they came to America in the first place.

Some people were disappointed in the lesbian storyline of The Half of It, mainly because Ellie and Aster are not a couple at the end of the story. However, Wu’s story is not about a couple, it is about growing up. Ellie’s story does not end with her “getting the girl”; it ends with her pursuing her dreams and potential. Paul and Aster do this as well in their own ways. 

Overall, The Half of It is an excellent story of friendship and growth. Teenagers and adults alike can enjoy this heartwarming tale.