Review: ‘The Half of It’ creates beautiful, coming-of-age story

Battling between xenophobia, homophobia


Courtesy of Netflix.

Netflix has added another coming-of-age film to its collection of original films. “The Half of It” came out on Friday, May 1 and instantly gained attention. This movie not only dives into teenage confusion and romance, but xenophobia and homosexuality.

This movie follows high school senior Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis), a Chinese immigrant who now lives in the small town of Squamish. She makes a living writing essays for other students, which leads her to meeting football player Paul Munksy (Daniel Diemer). He pays her to write a love letter to his crush, Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire), the daughter of a local pastor. Although Ellie is used to jobs like these, she has a secret crush on Aster as well. 

Although the movie is agonisingly slow, the outcome is well worth the wait. There is a beginning monologue narrated by Ellie, talking about the Greek mythology of soulmates. However, her character seems quite pessimistic and even unbelieving about such myths. For the educated viewers watching this movie, they will understand all the obscure literary mentions throughout. But the ones without this knowledge will feel as lost as Paul does among these book lovers.

During the movie, Ellie receives rude, xenophobic comments from her classmates, particularly targeting her last name. This film takes a look into what people of Asian backgrounds face in their day-to-day lives. The film takes a look into what people of Asian backgrounds face in their day-to-day lives and adds the additional societal burden of being within the LGBT+ community. With Aster being the daughter of a pastor and Ellie also going to that church, there is a good amount of confusion between the pair. Writer and director Alice Wu herself is gay, which takes this story closer to heart. These two topics are handled well and audiences who aren’t in either of these minority groups get an inside look. 

A majority of teenager classics have an even better soundtrack and “The Half of It” isn’t an exception. Songs like “Seventeen” by Sharon Van Etten and “Break the Rules” by the Ruen Brothers bring the audience into a nostalgic state. Alongside beautiful music, the shots of the movie were simplistic in the right way. Long roads, quiet ponds and small houses fill the scenery, transporting the audience right into the small town.

This film won’t become just another coming-of-age film, but one with several deeper meanings as well as heart-wrenching scenes. Despite the confusing references to English literature, this movie has no other flaws. Deserving 4.5 out of 5 stars, “The Half of It” accurately represents the struggles of being a racial minority within the LGBT+ community and romance during one’s younger years.