The Half Of It (2020) Review – For the Other Half of Your Soul.


The Half Of It, as the name suggests, is a romantic movie about longingness. Well, essentially, absence of love, is the cause of all longingness in the world, and thus it leads to the pursuit for the other half of our soul. 

“Love, It’s Not Finding Your Perfect Half.”

The Story

The Half Of It begins with an Oscar Wilde Quote, 

“When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one’s self, and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.”

And if you haven’t guessed by now, then yes it’s yet another modern take on Cyrano de Bergerac, where the Protagonist, doubtful of his appearance, lacks the courage to face the love of his life.

Half Of It narrates the story of Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis), a studious and shy Chinese-American immigrant who’s the only Asian kid in a fictional town, Squahamish, Washington. Ellie may seem innocent but she’s savvy enough to have developed a booming business writing essays for cash; this also allows her to support the cramped apartment she shares with her widower dad, an engineer who spends quiet evenings watching classic movies like “Casablanca” to improve his English.

Ellie’s flair for writing leads to writing letters for her schoolmate, Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer) who likes a girl named Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire) as Paul being a footballer, is not good with words.

The love triangle between Ellie, Paul and Aster is explored throughout the movie, with literary quotes coming up from the dead authors (they really turned into some snappy dialogues) and references from old flicks (didn’t expect a Hindi film here, but okay).

Ellie’s own inclination towards Aster is something that modern take has introduced in The Half of It, and it is really interesting to see Ellie’s own desire for a girl. This envies sums up to some sweet moments in the film that make you smile throughout.

Love Is Messy, And Horrible, And Selfish, And?

There is something very peculiar about The Half of It that stays with you. It’s the take on love. Philosophers alive and dead have all tried to define love, but what it is exactly is still under construction. The movie through it’s very sweet, snappy and well-written literary quotes (dialogues) binds you from the start of it. Maybe that’s how we try to start to understand love, through books and quotes — when in reality, we have never visited that lane. The same is true for Ellie, as she knows about love but not sure what it is exactly, and thus she quotes poets and philosophers to begin her journey in the realm of Love.

 “I sometimes hide behind other people’s words.”

These words gave her a push to create her own definition of love, but it isn’t easy to put love in words. Love is many things, it could belong to a person, a passion or something completely different. She even speaks, that there is no one way to love, but there is more,  and finding your perfect half is not love. It is more like a pursuit and if you stop chasing it, it dies, and in history, we all have seen, observed and felt traces of this exclamation. Through the film, Ellie is trying to figure out what love is, and finally, she ends up saying, 

“Love isn’t patient and kind and humble. Love is messy, and horrible, and selfish, and bold. It’s not finding your perfect half. It’s trying, and reaching, and failing.”

Bold because, what is the use of Love if you don’t pursue it boldly, and that’s where the Cyrano de Bergerac’s curve ends, from deception to finally owning up, Boldly.

Every song, movie, story, has the best part, for The Half of It, it is the depiction of a scene where director Alice Wu shows the neutrality or lack of love. So many faces, devoid of love and sadness. Neutrality is their curse because they haven’t been in love. To understand what an amazing feeling it is, you have to first go through it.

The Half of It is an easy-watch, adorable film, that keeps your interest intact, even if you could guess the ending. It does lag in the middle a bit, but some well-written scenes and dialogues do make up for it. Hope you like it, as much as I did. 

The Half of It  (2020) written and directed by Alice Wu is an American coming-of-age comedy-drama film streaming on Netflix.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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