• Kanika Lal

The Half Of It is Just the Beginning

For those who are in love, have loved and lost, or for those waiting for their chance at it, one thing is certain: love is complex.

In the Netflix film, The Half Of It, the language of love is expressed from a place of true heartbreak. A heartbreak, as described by writer - director Alice Wu, which originated from her own past relationships. For Wu, coming out as gay in college and losing her friendship with her straight male best friend took a journey of understanding. One that she expressed emotionally and truthfully through the script of The Half Of It. A journey that also resonated so strongly with the cast of the film, Leah Lewis, Alexxis Lemire and Daniel Diemer.

“I was thinking about love and how our society exalts romantic love,” Wu said during the Zoom virtual junket when asked about her connection to the story. Despite her sexuality, there were always assumptions that were made between her friendships with straight males. “It was at a time when we didn’t have language for this kind intimacy,” she said. “In general, we don’t even have that for straight men and women who are platonic. I thought that kind of relationship is an interesting lens to tell a story through.”

For Wu, it was not a break-up, but rather a drifting apart of friendship that was “more crushing” for her, and one that she explored through crafting the story of this film.

The themes of complex attraction towards others, layered relationships and social identity are largely represented in the film, and themes that jumped out to the actors.

For Lewis, the actress who plays the main character Ellie Chu, she couldn’t imagine her life without the role. “I was blown away by how different [the story] sounded, yet it sounded like the same story,” she said. “Boy falls in love with girl, girl falls in love with girl, too. Wait, what’s going on?" After diving deep in the script, Lewis "absolutely loved Ellie Chu." She added, "I thought to myself, ‘If I don’t play her, I will cry myself to sleep.’”

For Diemer, who stars alongside Lewis, his character Paul represents lots of complexities for him and one he genuinely connected with. “I wanted to be a part of this,” he said. “The story is beautiful, it touched my heart, and as an actor, I wanted to do a project special to me.” He added, “Paul is who I was in high school, and I spent years getting away from the innocence I saw in Paul. [Through this film], I learned to love myself again for who I am and not who I should be according to society. It was huge growing with Alexxis and Leah learning those things.”

For Lemiere's character Aster, the love interest of Ellie and Paul, she found a connection to her character that taught her more about her perspective on love. “For me, it changed the way I view the platonic aspect of love; how I see my friends and family. I realized, especially after shooting this, how much you lean on them and how important relationships are. I took that away from the film for sure."

It goes without saying that The Half Of It stems from true human emotion, friendship and love that doesn’t label itself simply black or white. It’s a tale that is needed in today’s market for romantic films, whether Wu intended for that or not, and one that will resonate with humans and our layered emotions going forward. The Half Of It is only the beginning of a new era of love stories.

For full interviews with the writer-director and cast of the film, watch here:

Watch The Half of It on Netflix today.

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