It is very clear to see the movie inspirations that got us The Half of It. I am indeed talking about To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Lady Bird, Call Me By Your Name and Forrest Gump. No, I do not think the combined result is greater than the sum of the individual parts, but I cannot deny that the film lends a certain feel-good aspect that makes it a rather enjoyable experience. The opening sequence of the film is powerful enough to make the audience captivated right from the beginning.
There are different points in the plot that serve as the highlights of the story. First one is of course the strokes of the painting, which both Ellie and Aster believe decide the greatness of the overall picture. That just five strokes in a painting can make it transform from being a good one, to a great one. So naturally, I assumed that the characters would see some sort of a metamorphosis which would come full circle with the aforementioned metaphor. And while I do agree that in Aster’s case it relatively renders more meaning since she is able to demand more out of her relationships because of it rather than simply settling for a more comfortable and familiar person, since the movie is supposed to be about Ellie more so than anyone else, it doesn’t hit with the intensity it potentially could have.
The second one, which I believe is much better implemented but not as profound, is the message of friendship and love. Ellie’s love for Aster and her friendship with Paul. And now is the right time to highlight that my absolute favourite thing in the film is the latter pair’s bond and friendship with one another. And I am glad the ending scene is Paul chasing Ellie’s train since that is literally the “running” joke of the movie because it shows how that bond was indeed the highlight for the film. The two characters learn a lot from each other throughout their interactions. They bring out better versions of themselves in each other’s company. Paul helps Ellie become more comfortable in her skin and brings out a much needed “less thinking, more acting” side of Ellie and Ellie gives him a comfortable space where he can be his true self and feel at home. And I enjoy the fact that neither one of their feelings for the other is one-sided. Even though ultimately it is platonic. Aster and Paul and Aster and Ellie on the other hand, are not supposed to be platonic and the movie markets itself as a love triangle. But for some reason I find Aster’s character to be rather forgetful and at times forced.
Paul is my favourite character in the film and when Ellie says “You try harder than anyone I have ever met; with the possible of exception of my dad with my mom; to show a girl that you love them. And if love isn’t the effort you put in, then what is it?”, it perfectly sums up the guy’s character, even though the dialogue could easily have been plagiarised from Lady Bird. And it is rather justified – the dialogue I mean. Paul is the first guy who Ellie can call a friend. He asks her questions and seems genuinely interested in getting to know her. This is at first a very suspicious change for Ellie, who is used to people only talking to her when they want to get something from her, and then never talking again. However, Paul asks her questions and stands up for her when people call her names and brings her with him to parties and pushes her to perform her original song in front of the school at the talent show and helps with her shopping. He is the one who realises when he makes mistakes and wastes no second to apologise about it. He is the one who calls Ellie’s father out for not seeing her potential and not pushing her to live her life independently. Paul shows her that life can be great and people can be nice and not everything has to be strategic.
I have seen countless times that over a period of time, we let our relationships become mundane and then find ourselves complaining about how our partners are not as smart or as interesting or as mentally stimulating as we want. And Paul would definitely belong to that category of people who aren’t the most intelligent. But the movie makes me regret having had these kinds of condescending thoughts. Because there is beauty in innocence. There is a kind of purity to it. Which we start taking for granted as we spend more and more time with someone. It is not about finding someone who ticks all our boxes. It is not about being with the perfect person. It is about being with someone who is a good person. Who makes you a better person. Someone who would always want the best for you. Someone like Paul. And it shows me that even if we do not have romantic connotations with that person, it is okay. Just as long as we find someone who makes us feel all these things about ourselves. Who we are comfortable with. Someone we can count on. Someone who would be honest and supportive. A friend. Because when we do find that one person who shows us a whole new world that we never knew about, that is when we find ourselves. And that is when we stop needing anyone at all. In a healthy way, of course.