I recently watched the film “The Half Of It” late one night with captions on and the audio down. I wanted to wake up my wife Peggy, but simply enjoyed the movie knowing that over breakfast I could tell her about it. The initial release date was May 1st.
The movie is about train service in Cle Elum (eastern Washington outside of Ellensburg) and the town of Squahamish. The town name didn’t sound right, but it felt like a good Salish term. Of course I knew there was no train service to Cle Elum. The look of The Half Of It felt like small town Washington. A quiet place to live and enjoy life. Many of us would probably love living there . . . joining Rotary and going to a small family friendly church. It was actually shot in upstate New York and included shots from half a dozen small towns there.
The main characters are: Ellie Chu (played by Leah Marie Liang Lewis), an immigrant trying to fit into a new life, Paul Munsky (played by Daniel Diemer), an inarticulate football player, Aster Flores (played by Alexxis Lemire), an aspiring artist and the heart-throb of Paul. Paul wants talented writer Ellie Chu to write a love letter for him to give to Aster. She declines. When she is warned over the phone that her father has not paid the electric bill and fifty dollars is needed today to continue the service, she agrees to the writing assignment for fifty dollars. Thus begins a story combining the storylines of Cyrano de Bergerac and several star crossed lovers of Shakespearian plays. You’ll wish everyone to succeed and get their wishes, but which wishes are realistic and if they aren’t . . . well, why not?
Lewis does a great job as Ellie. You want her to be accepted by the other students and develop friendships. Diemer played the affable Paul to a “T.” He knows what he wants, but doesn’t realize what he is capable of. We learn he is more than just a jock. Lemire is the article of worship by both Ellie and Paul. Each becomes entangled in and trips over their own thoughts and desires. In other words, they are just like all of us.
It took me two days to suggest the movie to Peg and she began gushing about the film before I could finish my first sentence. She wanted to share the story, too. We have TVs and online connections in three or four rooms in our home so it is easy to have one of us watching a film and the other writing or working on a computer. We need to schedule a viewing time for both of us to watch the film together. The Half Of It is a Netflix original. It received the Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival.
Watch the trailer: netflix.com/title/81005150
We heartily recommend this movie about love, imagination, immigration, dreams, directions, and decisions. Enjoy!