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Half Of It, Beautiful, Smart, Sexy(Without Any Sex)



The Half  Of It (Netflix)

Starring  Leah Lewis, Daniel Diemer, Alexxis Lemire, and Collin Chou

Directed  by Alice Wu

Rating: ***

Mohit Suri’s Ek Villain plays  an  important  in  Chinese-American director Alice Wu’s sophomore film—some of you must have seen her  dishy debut film Saving Face—The  Half Of It,which  is a surprisingly warm and wonderful  view of teen angst .

In the  film the 17-year  old Chinese American protagonist Ellie Chu(Leah Lewis,a delightful discovery) and her pal  Paul(Daniel  Diemer) watch  Siddharth  Malhotra run  after the train carrying a  sobbing Shradha Kapoor away in Ek Villain. At the end of the  film they enact  the same situation though  not as parody but an affirmation that life often imitates art.

And art,  this film is. It is a  beautiful little  gem  about three very  young people on the threshold  of  life, in love with one another. But ‘young’ here is  not synonymous  with callow. Our heroine  is Ellie a solemn serious student  of life  literature and  poetry, We seldom see the young girl smiling or enjoying the  gift of life.Maybe  because the sleepy American town  Squahamish does  not  encourage variations of  life.

The sameness, the frozen fate, the  static karma  have begun to get to Ellie .Specially since  she  is  a lesbian and   has no one to share her  thoughts with, in school or at  home.

 Home is a  static Chinese father(Collin Chou) who spends all his time watching black-and-white Hollywood classics(some of which  have  deeply inspired this sparkling romantic  karmedy).

Things liven up for Ellie  when at school her eyes fall on the divine beauty Aster Flores(Alexxis Lemire)  who is  criminally  beautiful as  though  God   created her  on  a Sunday. It’s love at  first sight  for Ellie. But before she could make  a move(doubtful, considering her hesitant  diffident nature) an eager  boy Paul(Daniel Diemer) seeks Ellie’s help to woo Aster.

Remember  Salman Khan  getting Sanjay Dutt to write poems  to woo Madhuri Dixit  in Sajan? If Sajan was a smart, sexy , same-sex love story it may have aspired to be something as excellently executed as this enrapturing coming-of-age saga with not one  flabby moment.  Director Alice Wu keeps  the  proceedings  forever upbeat, and yet there is  an undercurrent  of sorrow and regret in  the storytelling.

  This  film mourns  not  for the opportunities that are  lost  in love, but those that are  never  likely  to happen.The Half Of It is  a very pretty film with shades of dark racism:  boys yelling ‘Chu Chu’ to Ellie  as they  drive by her signature bicycle,  dear friend wondering what  the Chinese eat, etc. Specially at this time  when there is  so much global distrust against  the Chinese,  this film reminds us  that when a heart breaks the sound is  the same in every language.

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