The Half of It is a sophisticated coming-of-age film about first love, sexuality and friendship.
This post for The Half of It is spoiler-free.
The Half of It (written and directed by Alice Wu) follows the straight-A student Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) who is hired by her schoolmate Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer) to write a love letter to his crush Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire).
Wu’s The Half of It is one of those breakthrough teen movies that gives representation to the marginalised community of queer Asian-Americans. There are many high school teen drama romance movies about straight characters, but the ones committed to telling queer stories—specifically about lesbians—are rare. However, in recent years, mainstream Hollywood studios have indeed taken a gamble on reinventing the coming-of-age stories by being more inclusive—2018 saw the release of Love, Simon (2018) in theatres, while Netflix released Alex Strangelove (2018); both movies featured a gay character’s coming out journey.
Set in the fictional small town of Squahamish, The Half of It takes us through the process of “Cyrano de Bergerac-ing” a person to fall in love with them and coming to terms with one’s sexual identity. Ellie befriends Paul through the love letter writing business that he hired her for. It’s an unexpected pairing—a straight white high school boy becoming friends with a young immigrant lesbian—but it works out well for the movie as Paul’s pure goofiness complements Ellie’s introverted personality.
It’s obvious that The Half of It is a passion project for Wu, just like her first film Saving Face (2004). Wu is delicate in developing these on-screen characters, as audiences can really see their growth throughout the movie. From falling in love for the first time to accepting herself, Ellie’s progressive narrative transcends the run-of-the-mill teen movies. Though the movie ends on a bittersweet note, I’m excited to see if Wu intends to continue telling its story.