All that glitters is not gold. All The Bright Places centres around Violet Markey (Elle Fanning), who struggles with grief after the death of her older sister, and Theodore Finch (Justice Smith). They meet as Violet stands on the ledge of a bridge, ready to jump off, and after Theodore talks her out of it, he tries showing her the beautiful sides of life again. For a school project, they have to discover the extraordinary and scenic places – the wonderings – of their home state of Indiana. On these trips, Finch makes Violet laugh again and forget her grief for a while, all while romance blossoms.
All The Bright Places is the film-adaption of Jennifer Niven’s best-seller and directed by Brett Haley, appearing to be a light-hearted rom-com in the trailer. The drama tries to touch upon mental health in a similar way the Netflix series Spinning Out does. However, it is just another romanticized drama about mental health that could’ve been more.
The film, like every Netflix drama, is equipped with a fitting soundtrack that will make you shed a tear or two. Nevertheless, it is missing something overall. The disappointing thing about the Netflix-adaption is that the book is so remarkable, with the mental health matter being handled so carefully and the characters being so well-written that the film just falls short, especially when Haley decides to change things from the book. Even though some scenes were altered in the adaption, the film provided beautiful imagery and unforgettable shots, like the shoe-tree which, although seen before in movies like The Shoe Tree, added an interesting twist.
The acting of both Fanning and Smith is impeccable, providing their characters with more depth than the script allows them to with their dialogues. However, the film doesn’t give its characters enough investment. In the book, which was told alternating between the first-person-narrations and monologues of Finch and Violet, the character insight was enormous and one grew to love the two protagonists rather quickly. In the movie, their romance is at times not believable and their characters seem a bit dull and unrefined.
Sadly, the film-adaption follows the cliché of “the book was better”, but still delivers an enjoyable drama for a rainy day, with memorable quotes, an awesome soundtrack and interesting imagery.
A quote to remember:
“There’s beauty in the most unexpected of places and that there are bright places, even in dark times. And if there isn’t, you can be that bright place, with infinite capacities.”