Starring: Leah Lewis, Daniel Diemer, Alexxis Lemire
Director: Alice Wu
Running Time: 104 mins
The Half Of It is an American film about a high school girl who agrees to write love letters in the place of a jock, but soon falls in love with the girl whose affections he’s vying for.
I’m really liking this recent trend of teen romances that take an insightful look at the nature of love. Following on from the likes of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Every Day, and Love, Simon, The Half Of It is an earnest and perceptive high school romantic drama.
Saying that, however, it’s nowhere near as clever as it thinks it is. While its focus on the nature of love is engrossing at times, the film regularly attempts to deconstruct romantic tropes, yet falls into the trap of using them itself.
And that’s a real shame, because there are things about The Half Of It that are a real breath of fresh air in this genre. I love the way that it shies away from a generic story about the high school social ladder, and I absolutely love the lead performance by Leah Lewis.
But this film just doesn’t hit home on the deeper level it really needs to. It undermines its often genuinely insightful perspective on love with either cheesy or predictable plot twists and narrative devices.
There are times when the film forges its own path a little more, particularly in a wonderful aside in the early third act where Lewis and her crush, played by Alexxis Lemire, spend time together. However, as a part of the film’s overarching romantic narrative, it doesn’t hit home quite as strongly.
That’s why I found The Half Of It such a disappointing watch. It has some wonderful moments that should stand among the best in modern teen romances, while Leah Lewis’ assured and charismatic yet strikingly vulnerable performance is enormously memorable.
But in the midst of a story that doesn’t really work, and a perspective on love that’s not quite as clever as it thinks it is, the film really doesn’t have the resonance and insight it’s aiming for. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 6.7 overall.