“The half of it” offers a new twist on a well worn classic


Ellie Chu (Leah Louis) hurriedly reads Paul Munsky’s (Daniel Diemer) love letter by the side of the road on her way back from school. Ellie usually writes classmates’ essays for money, however, Paul surprises her by instead asking her to read over his love letter to Aster Flores, the girl that Ellie likes.

Catherine Bass, Staff Writer

If you think that Riverdale has good writing, you may be in for a surprise. Netflix’s new teen romance “the half of it” (directed by Alice Wu), about Ellie Chu (played by Leah Louis), Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire) and Paul Munsky’s (Daniel Diemer) love triangle in their senior year gives a refreshing take on the classic love triangle, and does so with taste and respect for their viewers. 

While some teen movies with queer characters as their main characters tend to make their queer character’s sexuality the center stage, “the half of it” only spends about five minutes talking about the fact that Ellie loves Aster. Which is nice. The movie does not try to make Ellie ‘come out,’ but rather just makes the fact that Ellie likes Aster just what it needs to be; a fact. Both Ellie and Aster are nuanced characters whose main character point is not that they are queer, but rather that they are smart, like art, and dislike being stuck in a town where everything stands still. (Ellie’s father is an Engineer with a Phd who is stuck working at a train station.) Ellie wants to stay in Squahamish because her father is there (even though she could go to a much better college in Iowa). On the other hand, Aster feels stuck because her impending future is not the one that she actually wants.  

The fact that their characters are nicely developed shows maturity in writing, and is something that other teen romances and dramas should take note of. 

“The half of it” is a surprisingly refreshing take on a genre that is usually done wrong; teen romance. The plot, while not necessarily original (see Cyrano de Bergerac and Roxanne), is done in a way that’s new and tasteful, and doesn’t make Aster Flores, the main love interest, a prize that is won by the end of the movie, unlike previous iterations of the storyline. The cinematography is very standard to Netflix’s repertoire, however, with the addition of a tasteful color palette straight out of Moonrise Kingdom, it has a very slept-in cosy appeal. The movie handles Ellie Chu’s story in a tasteful way that does not make her sexuality the center stage of the story, but rather just an integrated part of the story. The writing is better than previous Netflix teen romances, however, besides the three main characters, there is not much in the way of character development. 

“The half of it” is a somewhat refreshing take on a long worn genre, while still remaining down to earth. If all teen romances had this par of writing  (or at least strive to be this good), they would be able to rope in a wider, more mature audience, and also have more respect as a genre.