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Tragically triumphant: Netflix’s ‘All the Bright Places’

| Friday, March 20, 2020

Jackie Junco | The Observer

Brett Haley, Liz Hannah and Jennifer Niven’s screen adaptation of Niven’s young adult novel “All the Bright Places” came out strong on Netflix among other recent, less accurate book to movie transformations. This is mostly due to its talented cast, detailed cinematography and strong soundtrack/score.

The original story falls among the familiar pattern of young adult romances, though it seems a bit more sophisticated, like John Green’s books — mainly because Theodore Finch spouts off quotes like a lot of Green’s characters do. Violet Markey (Elle Fanning) is struggling with the one-year anniversary of her sister’s death in a car accident. Theodore Finch (Justice Smith) encounters one of her most vulnerable moments in this process and decides to pursue her friendship right then and there.

Finch is the type of free spirit who runs in high top Converse and says whatever he’s thinking in the moment. He writes inspirational words, phrases or quotes on color-coded sticky notes that he organizes on his bedroom walls. He even brings Violet a van full of flowers after disappearing for a couple of days.

Finch asks Violet to partner up with him for their geography teacher’s “Wander Indiana” class project, and they get to know each other very well through their visits to the wonders of the state of Indiana — Hoosier Hill, aka Indiana’s Highest Point of Elevation (which is not very high at all), the “Before I Die” wall, the Shoe Tree, a miniature rollercoaster, etc.

One of the most beautiful scenes comes when they go swimming in the Bottomless Blue Hole. Both the visual and emotional layers of the Blue Hole really hit at the core of the film’s story.

Fanning plays an introverted but stylish Violet Markey, transforming from sad and quiet to laughing and bright, living up to the nickname Finch gives her — Ultraviolet.

Luke Wilson skillfully portrays Violet’s warm but concerned father. Kelli O’Hara plays her worried and knowing mother, and Alexandra Shipp plays a charismatic Kate, Finch’s older sister.

A beautiful score intertwines with a mostly unique soundtrack. Keegan DeWitt’s original score mimics the mystery of both Violet and Finch and their journey of discovery with curiously quivering violin rifts and gliding piano notes. The soundtrack itself fits the story well with mostly upbeat songs like “Mo’ Better Blues” by Branford Marsalis Quartet featuring Terence Blanchard and “Too Young to Burn” by Sonny and the Sunsets. There is even a fun remix of “Pumpin Blood” by NONONO. More mellow and moody songs include “Waking Up” by Mr Little Jeans and “November” by Babeheaven.

It has to be mentioned that the ending of this movie is very tragic. The two people I watched the film with at different times were able to predict it, and since this story involves mental health, it’s necessary to give a warning.

This sad ending doesn’t mean the story itself isn’t beautiful. Definitely take the time to watch it, if only for the pretty places in Indiana and a passionate love story that’s just cheesy and gooey enough to want.

Film: “All the Bright Places” (2020)

Starring: Elle Fanning, Justice Smith, Luke Wilson

Directed by: Brett Haley

Where to Watch: Netflix

If You Like: “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Love, Simon,” “Paper Towns”

Shamrocks: 4/5


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