It is said that when one half finds its other, there’s an unspoken understanding, a unity and each would know no greater joy.
The Half Of It is a Netflix original about teenagers in love…which can go one of two ways with Netflix originals. Although I didn’t go into this movie thinking it would be like the others, and I thought how it would go by the trailer, and it ended up surprising me.
I should also note that the movie is inspired by the director, Alice Wu’s, real life.
It’s Not Finding Your Perfect Half
Quiet Ellie Chu is bullied at school (they call her Chu Chu) but makes money by writing essays for students. When love-stricken Paul goes to her to write a love letter to Aster, one of the most popular girls not only in school but their small town, Ellie ends up falling for her as well.
This movie just isn’t about romantic love, but the different kinds there are. One of the strongest parts this movie has going for it is the love that forms between Ellie and Paul. They barely know each other at the start and as things escalate with Aster, a friendship forms. Paul helps Ellie open up more and express herself while Ellie helps Paul reach his higher potential.
But the girl between them both is Aster. As she and Ellie (unbeknownst to Aster) exchange more letters, we learn Aster isn’t fond of her small yet privileged life, that she conforms to what her parents and friends want her to be. And Ellie helps her as well, telling her she doesn’t need to be that and should do what she wants.
After I watched the trailer, I for sure thought I knew how it would end, or at least, what would happen, but I was surprised at a few turns it took, even with Paul and Ellie’s friendship.
Not only does the movie talk about love but bullying, racism, sexuality, and what it’s like for Ellie and her dad, who are Chinese, to live in such a small, religious town. And I’m sure a lot of people can relate to her in some way. If not for any of the reasons above, just being more of an outcast in general and not having many friends.
One of my few quibbles is the pacing. I felt it dragged a little. When I saw there was an hour left, I wasn’t sure what else could happen aside from the big reveal that you know is bound to happen at some point. However, during that time you do see Ellie and Paul grow closer, even Paul with Ellie’s dad who doesn’t talk or socialize much because people can’t understand his English.
As someone who, unfortunately, still lives in a small town like Ellie’s, I think the movie does a good job of showing what it’s like to live around others who don’t agree with your lifestyle or will bully you for awful reasons.
The main three characters are likable in their own ways that you don’t want to see any of them hurt. Maybe you’ll go into this rooting for Ellie and Aster but Paul is a good, likable guy and you want him to be happy too.
If you want a different take on a “love” story, one that highlights the many different kinds of love that don’t just involve romance, that can come out of nowhere, then I highly recommend The Half Of It.