...and it's a flawless gem of a movie, currently ranking at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes!
THR: Smart, charming and endlessly refreshing.
New York Times: By exploring issues of race and queerness with emotional complexity, it treats teenagers with the sophistication they deserve. (...) Wu’s feature debut, “Saving Face” (2005), was one of the rare films to focus on the queer Asian-American experience. Now, “The Half of It” reflects sharpened ideas and a honed directorial voice.
Screen it!: Maybe the offering simply caught me at the right moment of wanting some ray of sunshine in our current bleak world, but I loved every minute of it. Funny, charming, heartfelt, and delightful, it also touches on some deeper thematic material regarding teens, immigrants, and sexual orientation.
Vulture: It’s yet another riff on Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac, one of the most overused comic-romantic prototypes of all time, but it’s so tenderhearted and transporting, its characters so likable, that you can’t help but want to give the movie and everyone in it a big hug. (...) We get so involved in the airy perfection of this correspondence and all that it opens up that the duplicity slips away and the human connection becomes downright metaphysical, a precocious teen’s dream of a better world. As filmed by Wu, the screen lights up with ornate words, pictures, and text messages, all of it contributing to a kind of dream life, one where these people’s words help transcend their mundane, dead-end milieu.
Note: If you expect the lesbian rom-com angle to be front and center, you might be disappointed. It's much more a general coming-of-age story about being gay and POC in rural America.
Alice Wu about the question of a happy ending:
[Spoiler (click to open)]I’m regularly peppered with questions over whether certain characters end up together in an ever-pointed crescendo toward “But is the ending happy?” My honest answer is that the point of the film isn’t about who ends up with whom. It’s about three people who collide in a moment-in-time before going their separate ways, each now holding the piece of themselves that allows them to become the person they are meant to be. The end of the film is each of their beginnings. And for my characters, I can think of no happier ending.
My review: I've seen this movie twice already and it made me laugh and cry both times. It's unbearably gentle, funny, serious...it feels light-hearted and dream-like while having plenty of gravitas at the same time. Somehow it's the movie equivalent of a hug, so if you want to take your mind off the current state of the world, it's the perfect choice. Every shot and frame feels deliberate and fresh - the cinematography and the score are gorgeous alone and elevate this movie so much above the formulaic teen movies Netflix keeps pumping out. The acting is stellar as well, and the lead actors appear to have a genuine connection and have been perfectly cast.
Imo 'The Half of It' should have gotten a wide theater release and awards love. I want Alice Wu to make a steady stream of movies in the future. A filmmaker as gifted as hers should have a mile-long filmography, and if the industry continues to pay her dust while letting the millionth mediocre bro fail their way through life I'M GOING TO RIOT.
Please use the spoiler tag if you wanna talk about the ending of the movie (without the stars):
Edit: If you haven't seen the movie stay clear of the comment section, there are spoilers below.
Sources: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
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