The Half of It, 2020 - ★★★

Super uneven. Some very cute parts. Several not cute parts. It wants to be a deep and thoughtful will-they-won’t-they romance, but also a cheesy Netflick with canned sfx gasps and an “and everyone clapped” moment.

When we watched the Dear Evan Hansen movie, I thought a lot about how hard it is to write a character that straddles the line between cringey-but-lovable weirdo and sociopathic weirdo. Evan Hansen is a sociopathic weirdo with very few redeeming qualities or reasons to root for him, Ben Platt’s dulcet tones be damned. So it’s hard to watch a film when you don’t buy the lead role. Or in The Half of It, the supporting role. Paul is a moron. Not really a likable moron. Just a moron.

Maybe I’m being hard on him. I thought Daniel Diemer did fine with the cards he was dealt. Actually all the actors were fine, with Leah Lewis really bringing it. But the writing does Diemer’s character especially dirty. Maybe in a dumber high school film his character would shine more. But this is a film that quotes Sartre and Camus, and features a classic film geek dad, rich set design and legitimately gorgeous shot composition. Ellie sets a bar for romancing Aster that Paul could never meet, and the film’s production design sets a bar for quality that the writing could never meet.

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David Christian Schlaepfer @davids