If you are the kind of person who enjoys eating a tub of chocolate ice cream and watching a sad movie on a Friday night, then look no further than Netflix’s new original film “All the Bright Places.”
Elle Fanning and Justice Smith play two misunderstood high schoolers living in Indiana. When a school project opens the door for Smith’s character, the goofy Finch, to get to know Elle Fanning’s character, the mysterious and sad Violet, the two fall for each other. Based on Jennifer Niven’s book of the same title, this movie gives off serious, young-adult novel energy. Think somewhere between “A Walk to Remember” and “The Fault in Our Stars.” The film also deals with serious themes that people of all ages can relate to.
Early in the film, viewers learn that Violet’s sister was killed in a car wreck, leaving Violet to struggle through grief and depression. Later on, viewers learn that Finch’s abusive father left both physical and mental wounds that contribute to Finch’s bipolar tendencies and violent outbursts. The film also discusses issues such as self-harm, suicide and eating disorders. .
Do not, however, think that this movie is pure sadness. Amid the emotional issues and self-harm, “All the Bright Places” also touches on the importance of support and therapy. Violet is able to begin processing her sister’s death with Finch’s help, and Finch joins a group to talk through his past traumas.
The movie ultimately ends on a positive note. Throughout the movie, Violet and Finch visit seemingly mundane spots around Indiana. Though Violet is initially unimpressed, Finch helps her to see the magic in small, everyday places and things. In the end, the movie ends emphasizing a focus of finding the silver lining.
Not every actor can capture these kinds of emotions, yet Fanning and Smith give life to the roles in a way that makes the movie more realistic and relatable. Smith especially brings dimension to a complex character who wants to move past his trauma, but has a difficult time when everyone
in school calls him “Freak.”
Though there were certainly some eye roll-worthy moments in this movie, the movie’s themes were well-executed and presented in a way that brought attention to the inner turmoil that can hide behind a mysterious air or goofy smile. Netflix does not always pull off a romantic film well, but the producers have successfully made a movie that focuses on the joy amongst heartache and the bright places found amongst the dark.