Movie #155 2020: The Half of It (2020)

The Half Of It is doing relatively well on Netflix and in critics’ circles currently. Why? Because we are all starved of new content, obviously. No cinemas, no new production to speak of… it’s really no wonder that people are fawning over the first half decent new release since Miss ‘Rona took hold of the globe. (By the way, I’m not including Trolls World Tour in that ‘half decent’ comment, because that shit was entertaining no matter what you say).

Unfortunately, when I say ‘half decent’, I mean it. I found this movie good, rather than very good or excellent.

The Half of It is a coming-of-age comedy/drama of sorts, and marks the first feature film in 15 years from Alice Wu, who famously directed Saving Face back in 2005. It focuses on the shy but intellectually brilliant Ellie Chu, who befriends a straight white dude as he enlists her help in writing love letters to his crush. One thing leads to another, and Ellie finds herself crushing on the same girl.

When I briefly reviewed this movie on Letterboxd, I started off by saying that I don’t really care for lesbian movies very often, which – I am told – makes me sound really homophobic. (This is particularly hilarious because… I am gay). What I meant by that statement is, all of the lesbian movies I have seen have been particularly awful. Other than a couple of stand-outs such as But I’m a Cheerleader, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and The Handmaiden, I’ve so very rarely been impressed by an LGBTQ+ movie, so I didn’t really have high hopes for this one either.

Thankfully, it was at least average to good.

The plot – although it does sound like some cheesy eighties teen movie from its synopsis – ended up being really quite adorable, and all of the characters were really likeable. To be honest, I’m not really sure that there was enough content across the story line to fill an entire feature film, as it often got a little tedious. However, it was entertaining enough.

What stood out here was the technical prowess demonstrated within the movie. There are some particularly gorgeous shots within this, which would stand out in any film. The fact that this has a kind of ‘indie’ edge to it (despite being shown on Netflix) makes such shots all the more special. A particular favourite sequence of mine was the lake scene, as pictured above. Very pretty to look at, and very much integral to the story.

Quite inventively, Wu chooses the medium of film to show the way in which the lead character’s father has chosen to learn English. He watches many classic American movies such as Casablanca in an attempt to do so, and I particularly loved the inclusion of this. The films themselves also tie into the main story line, as Ellie uses some of the dialogue in her love letters, and this particularly stood out as a positive of the movie as a whole.

Already there are talks of a sequel to this movie in the works. The ending definitely lends its hand to that way of thinking, and to be honest, I wouldn’t be mad if they did make a second one.

I enjoyed this movie to an extent, but that’s not to say I recommend it. The conclusion – although giving way to the idea of a sequel – was really quite anti-climactic, and the chapel scene in the latter moments stood out as being thrown together at the last minute.

Sure, if you’re out of things to watch then give this a go. But if you have a watch list of other stuff going on, I wouldn’t put this to the top of it.

The Half of It is streaming on Netflix in the UK.

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