So, heads-up: I don’t know whether this is a movie review, a discussion post, or a straight-up essay. I’ve only ever reviewed one movie ever, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. The truth is, I don’t know what I’m doing. I haven’t planned what I’m gonna write, so this is most likely going to be A Mess™️. But that’s my brand, and I’m okay with it. So please bear with me while I bring you a different kind of post today and endlessly word-vomit my thoughts on The Half of It. Enjoy! ❤
(Warning: this post contains SPOILERS! If you haven’t watched the movie, pls read with caution, I beg of you!)
Yesterday (May 1st, 2020), a little movie called The Half of It dropped on Netflix. The moment I saw the trailer for it about a month ago, it became one of my most anticipated movies of the year. I had already been looking forward to it, however, as I’d seen several people on Twitter boost it, talking about how it had a queer Asian protagonist and a Latina love interest. so yeah, that sent my excitement over the roof.
And then the day came; The Half of It was released into the world! But with it came a lot of critiques from people being disappointed because “it wasn’t a romcom. It wasn’t fluffy. It didn’t have a happy ending!”, and to no one’s surprise, these complaints came primarily from white queers.
Now, here’s the thing, I’m not here to police anyone’s thoughts. Whether you enjoyed the movie or not is truly none of my business because we all have different tastes! But going to the lengths of calling this wonderful film “problematic” just because the two girls don’t end up together does not sit right with me in the slightest.
From the beginning, we, as the viewers, know this isn’t a love story. At least, not a romantic love story. Ellie confirms this basically five minutes in, it’s even in the trailer. So, from the get-go, this is basic information. The entire time, this movie was marketed as a coming-of-age film, never a rom-com, BECAUSE IT IS NOTHING OF THE SORT.
Yes, us gays want all the happy queer movies, especially the sapphic ones, because they are definitely lacking. Maybe this isn’t the fluffiest sapphic movie, but it is a happy movie, and it DOES have a happy ending. A magnificent, open ending full of a whole lot of joy, so yeah, seeing people drag this movie through filth for no reason? It feels like a personal attack.
The Half of It may not be a rom-com, but it IS a love story. It celebrates platonic love and self-love. It’s all about friendship and discovering who you really are. And it is the most beautiful thing.
Ellie and Paul’s friendship is soft and tender and the way it grows and develops is astonishing. They make mistakes, and they learn from each other, and are always there for one another, so yeah, their love story? A cultural reset, indeed.
What bothers me most about most of the complaints on the sapphic relationship is, yet again, how there is no happy ending. But lemme tell y’all, these people and I did not watch the same movie.
Aster is the daughter of a priest, she’s had the same boyfriend for years, and is basically pressured to be perfect. She comes from this conservative family in a small town and is put down by society’s expectations of what kind of girl she should be. I don’t know about y’all, but I saw a girl trying to come out of her shell and finally figure out herself.
My interpretation of her as a character was that, as she mentioned, she felt safe with Paul, the boy. But the letters and texts she shared with Ellie made her feel real. When she drops off Ellie after hanging out with her all day, she feels happy. She feels good. And when she sees Paul and goes up to kiss him, to me, it’s like she wants to find out if she feels just as good with him as she felt with Ellie while they floated together.
When she figures out Ellie was the one writing the letters all along, she feels a little broken, not just because it was a betrayal of her trust, but also cause it means a lot of confusing feelings are coming to the surface, and coming from a conservative small town like Squahamish, she doesn’t know what that means for her. She’s scared, as she realizes that Ellie is the person she liked all along, but coming to terms with it is hard.
And because of that, the ending was perfect for me. Not only does Ellie finally stop putting others before herself and go to an amazing college to chase after her dreams, but Ellie and Aster kiss and realize they will come back for one another someday. Aster isn’t ready yet; she has her identity to fully figure out (which she will do, as she very firmly declared) and a conservative family to deal with. Oh, and a stupid boyfriend to break up with, too. Ellie and Aster may not have ended up together, but they, plus Paul, all found happiness at the end.
And that’s why The Half of It, with its tenderness and celebration of all types of love, isn’t a rom-com. It’s a love story, and a hell of a good one at that.