ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES on Netflix, which was just released this past weekend is actually not bad at all, if you can swallow that it is basically just The Fault In Our Stars but instead of cancer/disease it is depression/suicide. Don’t worry, this is not going to be me on another rant on how nothing is original in Hollywood anymore, because I managed to look past the fact that this was just another play on an age old tragedy, and find the good, decent, and most importantly, original inside. The music in this movie is incredible, I’m still humming the instrumentals out loud as I type this. The acting is perfection from Elle Fanning (per usual) and Justice Smith (his career best so far). And I think it displays the themes and issues surrounding depression and suicide well albeit in only a few new unique ways, mostly messages we’ve heard of before. Be warned, this movie is very sad and you will probably cry (probably like you did with The Fault In Our Stars), but it is entertaining and tells a good story and some might even say it could be inspirational for those suffering from depression. If you just go into it with an open mind and try to keep the similar films comparisons at bay, it’s a solid Netflix film.
The film (based on a book, like The Fault In Our Stars was) is about a girl named Violet who is about to jump off a bridge where her sister died tragically in a car accident months earlier, when a boy named Finch just happens to be doing his usual exercise routine of running, notices her and gets her to step off. He then tries to help her by seeing the bright side of life, and inserting himself into her life as much as possible, including making her be his school project partner where they have to wander around, visit and report on random places in Indiana. Suffice to say, they fall in love and if you’ve seen The Fault In Our Stars, and switch the cancer element out with depression, you’ll know exactly how it ends. So…I guess I should’ve put a spoiler alert warning? Anyway, even with the similarities, the characters don’t do all the same things in their time together, and the acting and characters are definitely different and more unique from each other to keep things fresh. I’ve kept my eye on Elle Fanning as an actress ever since her excellent debut in Super 8, and it is just a matter of time before she gets a huge big break in the theater and possibly snag an Oscar. Justice Smith gives us his career best performance so far as Finch (you might know him from his turns in Detective Pikachu Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Paper Towns, Every Day and the TV series The Get Down) and proves that he might be a force to be reckoned with. He just needs bigger and better roles and hopefully isn’t just reduced to Netflix films in the future.
Anyway, this is going to be one of my shorter reviews, as there is not much to say about the film without truly spoiling it all. The movie is heartbreaking yet inspirational and entertaining to say the least. Make sure you have tissues handy. The film is directed by Brett Haley, who I’ve only seen one other film which was The Hero starring Sam Elliott, and that was pretty good, even though it was basically Crazy Heart. I do need to check out Heart Beats Loud that stars Nick Offerman, I’ve heard that is excellent. The film was co-written by the author herself Jennifer Niven, so I’m assuming that the film doesn’t stray too far from the novel, and more surprisingly, Liz Hannah, who co-wrote the excellent Steven Spielberg film The Post, and the most recent comedy Long Shot with Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron. Those films had excellent dialogue and it is no exception here. The number one thing that can make or break these YA dramas is sometimes the dialogue. I have seen great concept after great concept being ruined by what is coming out of the actors mouths. Thankfully, that is not the case with All The Bright Places, everything said feels realistic and true. So yeah, if you need a good cry, definitely cue this up on Netflix, just know that you might be watching The Fault In Our Stars as somewhat of a copy cat double feature.