- Directed, Written, and Produced by Alice Wu
- Reviewed by Valerie Goldstein
Racial Representation: 5
LGBTQ+ Representation: 5
Disability Representation: 0
Body Size Representation: 0
Gender Representation: 4.5
Socioeconomic Representation: 4.5
Mental Health Representation: 4
Religious Representation: 1
Own Voice: Yes
The Half of It is a coming of age movie focused on Ellie Chu, a closeted Asian lesbian. While the film at first glance might seem stereotypical since Ellie is quiet, gets good grades, plays piano, and takes care of her father, the added layer of her sexuality turns the model minority stereotype on its head. Her culture is woven smoothly into the plot with the food her dad makes, the Mandarin they speak at home, and how the boys at school make fun of her last name, but she still has her own personality beyond it.
Her struggle with her sexuality is also a part of the story, since she’s in a small Christian town and no one knows this about her, but it is only one of the conflicts that she deals with. Another is how her father struggles to find a job partly because of the language barrier, but also because he is still grieving the death of his wife, Ellie’s mother. While he struggles with his mental health, Ellie has to take on jobs to pay the bills, jobs like writing her classmates essays for them which is how she meets Paul, her soon-to-be best friend who asks her to help him write a love letter to his crush Aster, whom Ellie starts to fall for.
Most of the interactions in the film are between Ellie and Paul as they become friends, and there are only a few other female characters (or any characters really), but she does have some strong interactions with her English teacher and Astrid. Ellie plans to go to college nearby so she can take care of her dad, but her English teacher encourages her to go to a good school farther away since she knows she is capable of great things.
Paul is very religious while Ellie is an atheist, and Aster, whose father is the preacher at their town’s church, has a complicated relationship with her faith. When the first letter Ellie writes for Paul snowballs into her even texting for him, we get to learn more about Aster, another woman of color, but some say that she is underdeveloped compared to Paul and Ellie.
All in all, this is a really beautiful movie about friendship, sexuality, being a teenager, finding your voice, and love.