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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The Half of It (PG)

Luke McWilliams gives his review of the 2020 comedy Netflix film, The Half of It.

In the remote town of Squahamish, the studious but friendless Chinese American high school senior Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) lives with her widowed father and performs most of his duties as a train station signaller. To make extra money, Ellie authors her classmates’ essays. One day, she is approached by the loveable but inarticulate football player Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer), who asks Ellie to write a love letter to his crush: the beautiful Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire).

The movie is the 16th film adaptation of the 1897 French play, Cyrano de Bergerac. Most audiences know the story from 1987’s Roxanne, where the nasally endowed CD Bailes (Steve Martin) woos the beautiful Roxanne (Daryl Hannah) on behalf of a clueless stud. This adaptation sets the action in high school while exploring themes of homosexuality from an immigrant perspective within a traditional religious setting. Ellie is intelligent, independent but quiet. If not for the lure of money and the unrequited love of a fellow classmate, she would likely ignore all calls to a future beyond graduation and stay in the safe bubble she has made for herself.

With the charm of a ‘going home’ movie, The Half of It explores the awkward trepidation of growing up and moving on, coupled with the want to know oneself and to live authentically.  

Verdict: A charming, quaint movie which unfortunately derails in the third act, careering away from the lofty, genre-defying ideas set up early on. 3 stars.

The Half of It is streaming on Netflix

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