Jennifer Niven’s novel “All The Bright Places” debuted in 2015 and caught fire among readers of all ages. Now, with even more buzz than before, the highly anticipated film adaptation premiered on Netflix Feb. 28.
Usually when a book is adapted for film, there are mixed emotions and reactions: Some hate it, some love it and some are indifferent because they did not read the book and only saw the film adaptation.
“All The Bright Places” is guaranteed to resonate with both those who read the beloved novel and those who are just now seeing this story on screen. Elle Fanning and Justice Smith play the characters of Violet and Finch, and their performances were impeccable.
Violet (Fanning) is mourning the loss of her sister, who died in a car wreck, and meets Finch (Smith), who finds her standing alone on the ledge of a bridge. During this encounter, Finch’s calm demeanor and comical attitude pull her out of her dark moment, and the two part ways.
Curious about why Finch has taken interest in her, Violet is unsure of why he wants to be her partner for their high school geography project. Despite Violet still processing her grief, she obliges Finch and accepts his persistent request to be her partner for the project, which requires them to explore the state of Indiana.
The two teens embark on a series of unique mini-adventures with each other, as Finch slowly but surely works Violet out of her grief. Yet, while Finch brings a smile to Violet’s face, he remains distant with her and avoids revealing too many personal details about himself. Violet forces him to speak up about what exactly is bothering him, and what she gets is an unexpected response: “People don’t do messy.”
This film focuses on tough themes that many are still afraid to discuss: mental health, physical abuse, suicide, grief and loss.The film handles these subjects in a way that reveals how our society still fears discussing issues surrounding mental illness. Despite tackling difficult topics, the film balances comical moments, teen romance, Virginia Woolf quotes and a grieving family finding their way back together.
With an excellent soundtrack, this film is one that evokes many emotions; viewers be warned: have tissues within reach. Through smiles, laughs and tears, viewers will witness a beautiful story of two teens who meet at a complicated time in their lives.
The important thing to remember is that everyone is struggling with something personal, and it may not always be easily detected. “All The Bright Places” reminds its audiences that beauty can be found in anything, if one searches deep enough.