Under the writing and direction of “Saving Face”’s Alice Wu, Leah Lewis (“Charmed,” CW’s “Nancy Drew”) stars in Netflix’s newest Cyrano de Bergerac adaptation, “The Half of It”; this one decisively better than 2018’s “Sierra Burgess is a Loser.
Set in a British-looking, small foggy town of Squahamish, the plot develops between conveniently relevant quotes like an episode of “Criminal Minds.”
Wu’s masterful coming-of-age story shines with the intelligence and raw honesty of something that’s been missing in Netflix’s recent attempts at adaptation.
This movie is straightforward, sophisticated and just a little too deep for high school. Wu’s characters are masterfully created but deserving of a grander story than small-town tropes (unpopular outcast protagonist, likable and witty best friend, overwhelming need to sacrifice personal dreams for parents’ expectations).
The script carries the weight of high schoolers with too much on their minds, trapped in too small of a town with too few ways to cope. Wu’s talent and multifaceted characters deserve a more appropriate setting than sixteen-year-olds who seem to have already lived fuller lives than I expect by twenty-six.
However, the “Cyrano” plot isn’t cheesy or too out of place; rather, unlike “Sierra,” it feels real and misty, evoking the calm familiarity of Smalltown, U.S.A. wrapped in the soundtrack of an early-2010s film.
Thankfully, the overall focus remains on a clear main cast, preventing confusion between characters amidst the blink-or-you’ll-miss-it plot development with few consistencies throughout the film.
“Sierra’s” attempt and this year’s remarkable feature have many similarities, including the outcast main character performing their own original song. What “Sierra Burgess” lacked in plot, development, and distraction, “The Half of It” recovers twofold — no Noah Centineo necessary. Instead of feeling recycled, “The Half of It” revives this classic story in an expertly modern way.