Review: All the Bright Places

March 23, 2020

**Spoilers Ahead! If you do not want to know what happens, please watch the movie on Netflix and then come back. **

All the Bright Places, based on the bestselling novel written by Jennifer Niven, was recently turned into a movie and released by Netflix on February 28, 2020.

The movie tells the story of two teenagers, Violet Markey (Elle Fanning) and Theodore Finch (Justice Smith). Ever since Violet’s sister was killed in a car accident, Violet has never quite been the same — she is constantly disengaged in school, detached from her friends, and pondering committing suicide. Everything changes when she meets Finch. Finch, a suicidal teenage boy, struggles with an unidentified mental illness possibly due to being physically abused as a child. He is often overwhelmed with dark thoughts that lead him to disappear for days on end and violently lash out at others. 

A geography assignment about discovering the wonders of Indiana brings the unlikely pair together. As they explore the state, they experience the little joys of life together — a homemade roller coaster, the highest point in Indiana, a beautiful field of flowers etc. Along their journey, Violet and Finch begin to fall in love with life again as well as with each other. Finch teaches Violet what it means to be happy, and Violet unconditionally loves Finch despite his imperfections. 

However, Finch cannot seem to escape his past and troubled state, eventually leading him to commit suicide. The movie comes to a close with a final scene of Violet revisiting the lake where Finch drowned himself, symbolizing her final acceptance of his death. 

The movie refrains from romanticizing mental illness and provides a raw take on what it means to be human. The movie brings awareness to problems teens face everyday from experiencing survivor’s remorse to battling mental illness. It accurately illustrates the grief process as one that is full of somber tears, heartache, and denial. The film manages to show the beauty of young love as well as what the two teenagers learn from each other – what it means to have loved and more importantly, be loved. Throughout the movie, the characters are fully developed and portrayed by gifted artists, making the love ever more poetic.

Although the compelling drama includes a sober spin and non-ideal ending, it is definitely worth watching. Due to its sensitive content, the movie is rated TV-MA and viewer discretion is advised. It is refreshing to see that the media does not glorify mental illness but rather raises awareness. At the beginning of the credits, the movie provides the message that the film is “dedicated to those who have been impacted by mental health concerns, suicide or grief” and provides a link for those dealing with similar problems to seek help. 

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