It isn’t very often that I find LGBTQ+ movies that don’t fall into the trap of stereotypes and clichés. Because of this, you can imagine how delighted I was to find Netflix’s The Half of It. This movie is wonderfully low-key about its queerness and it isn’t the entire theme of the film. It is a wonderful coming of age story that is great to throw on without having to think too much about things.
In this loose modern retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac, we follow main character Ellie Chu in her normal life in the small town of Squahamish. She writes papers for virtually all of her peers for money, and she is known in her high school for this. It is not a shock for her to be approached to write papers; however, football player Paul Munski has an odd request for her. He asks her to write a love letter to Aster Flores, the most popular girl at the school, on his behalf.
This would not be an issue, except that Ellie also has feelings for Aster. Although she does not want to write the letter, a past-due power bill changes her mind and she agrees to write a letter for Paul. Over the course of the movie, we realize that Ellie and Aster are far more alike than Paul and Aster, so Ellie attempts to teach Paul more about their shared interests. Along the way, Paul and Ellie begin to bond and spend more time together.
This movie touches on topics that normally would not be seen in a coming of age movie. Ellie is Chinese-American and her widowed father does not speak fluent English. Although he has a PhD in engineering, he has not been able to work his way up the train company he is currently employed by due to his ethnicity. Paul is also working through his own family struggle with trying to change the family sausage recipe, which is what his family business is centered around.
The movie itself is also just gorgeous. The cinematography is beautiful. The whole film is drenched in warm tones that make for some beautiful shots. There are many shots where the contrasting blues and oranges are complementary and it adds a great warmth to the night scenes. The color palette of the movie is mainly shades of blues, oranges, and tans and it works really well for the tone of the film.
The overall tone of the film is very relaxed and calm. There is minimal background music and the scenes are not too overwhelming. Everything happens at an easy pace and it is not a flood of emotions as some queer films can be. I think this fits the overall vibe of the small town of Squahamish. Those who have lived in small towns know that not much goes on from day to day.
I really love that the story is based on real-life struggles amongst teenagers in the film. The film isn’t centered on Ellie being queer, and it isn’t a coming-out story. Although her queerness is an aspect of the story, it is definitely not the main plot-line. It is refreshing to see a story that is not centered around a tragic coming out or something similar. There was a moment where we hear the stereotypical “but it’s a sin” line from Paul, but he overcomes this pretty quickly and it is a small part of the film.
Overall, it’s a great film. Everything is very cohesive and the characters are great. It is a relaxed coming-of-age film that is not overly serious while also not overly comical. It is taken seriously, but not in a way that makes it a harsh film. This is a film that I will definitely rewatch a few times. It is great to put on while having a calm night. It is not an overwhelming story where there is too much to pick up on. The movie is very chill and I enjoyed it a lot and would recommend it to anyone looking for a low-effort-needed queer movie to watch. You can stream The Half of It on Netflix now.