Netflix’s “All the Bright Places” is worth the watch

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One of the posters for the movie "All the Bright Places." The movie is available for streaming on Netflix.

Haleigh Watkins, Staff Writer

Get your tissues ready for this one. Netflix’s latest teen drama, All the Bright Places, is a definite tear-jerker. Starring Elle Fanning and Justice Smith, the film was released on February 28, 2020. 

Still reeling from the car accident that took her sister’s life, Elle Fanning’s Violet Markey plans to jump off a bridge. Her plans are thwarted, however, when self-proclaimed school freak Theodore Finch manages to talk her out of it. 

After this, the two partner up for a school project in which they must explore the wonders of Indiana. From there, they form a slow, hesitant friendship that evolves into a budding romance. 

While the relationship that develops between Markeyand Finch is admittedly typical for a teen romance, drawing comparisons from The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park, that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable, if at times pretentious. The two communicate their feelings for each other through Virginia Woolf quotes and always have a witty line to meet the other with. 

The chemistry between actors Fanning and Smith is also a pleasure to watch. Under the backdrop of beautiful Indiana fields and forests, the two share more than a few sweet moments. 

But underneath the quick wit and kissing, the two share a far deeper connection. It is Finch who forces Violet to face the world after the loss of her sister, offering her companionship under the Indiana skies. Viewers will cheer for Violet as she begins to find herself again. 

But as Violet improves, Finch finds himself getting worse. His mental illnesses are shown through a large display of post-it notes hung up in his room, detailing everything from reasons to keep living to quotes that resonate with him. As his post-it notes fail him and his behavior becomes more and more erratic, and as the scars from his past become too much for him to bear, Finch makes a series of choices that many will find hard to agree with, such as pushing Violet away. The earnest portrayal of his mental illness by Smith makes it all the more tragic. 

Viewers will want to see Finch get better, just like he helped Violet do.  

Just as important as the central romantic relationship, are the platonic relationships. In a movie centered around teen romance, platonic relationships can be good to keep the film grounded. All the Bright Places is a great example of this. The dynamic between Finch and his sister, Kate, was especially enjoyable to watch. With both parents practically out of the picture, it is both interesting and heartbreaking how they come to rely on each other. 

It is the characters who make the movie. Even the minor ones feel like real people you could meet on the street. Rather than existing solely to fuel the plot or help Violet and Finch’s character arc, each and every one of them have very real motivations behind their actions. 

Despite the real, honest connections between the characters, All the Bright Places is undeniably tragic, like many movies that deal with loss and death are. But more than that, it is also a story of moving on. It will make viewers cry, but it will also make viewers smile. The journey of healing that Violet undertakes over the course of the movie is ongoing, continuing even after the movie comes to its melancholy finish.  

For fans of movies like The Fault in our Stars or The Sun is Also a Star, All the Bright Places is a no brainer.