If you do a lot of reading and are into Greek mythology, you probably already know what the myth surrounding the whole ‘soulmates’ business is.
Plato in Symposium said –
“According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.”
The 2020 Netflix film ‘The Half Of It’, starts off with the protagonist Ellie Chu narrating this Greek belief for a school essay. She had written it for some other student. Chu lives alone with her dad in a small town called Squahamish and makes money on the sides off her fellow college students by writing their papers.
One day, a shy jock called Paul Munsky asks her to refine a love letter he has written for a pretty girl called Aster. And that’s how an innocent deceptive wooing of the pretty girl begins; who by the way – already has a hunky boyfriend.
The Netflix description pretty much sums up the entire film –
She’s a gifted introvert. He’s a sweet jock. Both are smitten with the same girl. Friendships — and first loves — can be complicated.
There is actually nothing too original about this film, except for the fact that the lead is not your usual white girl stereotype. The plot reminded me of “Sierra Burges Is A Loser”, a pretty bad Netflix film, where the lead pretends to be somebody else and texts the pretty boy. Here, the texting is done by a girl, to a girl.
So Ellie Choo sends letters and texts to woo Aster, pretending to be Paul. Eventually, Paul and Aster go on an awkward first date. And things begin to get complicated from there.
All the actors are really good at their parts. Daniel Diemer who plays Paul, comes across as a lost cute puppy and has the potential to be the next teen heart-throb. We are talking Noah Centineo kind of fame, after he appeared in ‘Too All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’.
Coming back to the plot – the makers conveniently don’t give any thought to the cheating bit at all. Aster goes on dates with Paul, even kisses him, while she is still in a very serious relationship with another guy. ‘Marriage is on the cards & family agrees’ kind of serious. Which is weird, considering they are just college seniors.
The film is slow in parts, owing to the fact that a lot of conversation is indirect – via texts. There are no high humor points, I mean if I had to recall a very funny scene right now, I can’t think of anything. And I finished the film just half an hour back. However, there are parts that do manage to tug the heart-strings. The accidental friendship that develops between Ellie & Paul is adorable.
The film also has an interesting Bollywood reference that only Indians will probably get. Ellie Chu & Paul watch the film ‘Ek Villain’ (a terrible film, just saying), which foreshadows the ending scene for their film.
Ellie’s homosexuality is a matter that is not given a lot of space or thought. We don’t know if she is gay, or bisexual, or pan-sexual, or asexual or any other sexual binary that is out there. Maybe the positive way to look at it is – it shouldn’t be a big deal either. It was nice to see close to zero negativity surrounding homosexuality, in a film where the lead is seemingly gay. There are no crude jokes, no condemnation.
In the first few minutes of the film, I noticed that the cinematographers used a lot of symmetry in the background to make the sets look pleasing to the eye. So visually, the movie is pretty good.
The lesbian plot twist, which is given away in the trailer and in the description, is probably the only thing that saves ‘The Half of It’ from being a completely forgettable ‘coming of age’ teen romance. Although it does serve as a breath of fresh air from the other teen films where everything is over-exaggerated. In this film, everything is subtle, smooth, sweet and slow.