Mental health issues are at the forefront of our lives with more and more people becoming affected by it. It’s an invisible disease and you just never know what someone could be going through and what is hiding behind a smile. Sadly, many teenagers suffer from various mental ailments too and struggle to cope while trying to juggle puberty, hormones and the brutal world of high school.
All The Bright Places manage to do a good job at materializing this, telling the story of two young adults suffering and trying to help each other with what they are going through. While the movie is not wholly original and follows some of the usual young adult tropes you’d expect, it still delivers its sensitive story in a touching and respectful way.
The story revolves around two struggling teens; Violet Markey who blames herself for the death of her sister in a car crash and Theodore Finch, called “the freak” by everyone around him who’s forced to live with his own demons. While out on one of his regular runs, Finch comes face to face with Violet as she is standing at the edge of a bridge. Determined to help her, Finch dedicates his time to help Violet heal as we see their friendship turning into love while a darker side to him grows. The movie follows the duo as they struggle with the scars of their past and how it affects their everyday lives.
Portraying mental health issues on-screen in not an easy feat. After 13 Reasons Why and some of the criticism Netflix received, the screening giants bring us another attempt with this one and manages to do it in a pretty respectful way. The story remains simple with some touching and powerful scenes throughout as it delivers a strong message around mental health.
We’re not told in detail what has happened to both teens and the movie does a great job with its “show don’t tell” messages, especially when it comes to Finch. We see it on his walls full of sticky notes with happy messages and also through the physical exhaustion he puts his body through, running or holding his breath for a very long period of time. These are quite harrowing moments in the movie too.
Both main actors do a great job with their complex roles, portraying teenagers with some deep inner turmoil. Elle Fanning plays the withdrawn and reserved Violet who is unable to move on from her sister’s tragedy while by contrast Justice Smith is more exuberant, determined to make a difference in Violet’s life but has his own share of very dark moments, due to something troubling in his past. Both have great chemistry on screen which gives the movie even more emotion.
The cinematography is also worth mentioning, giving us some beautiful imagery of Indiana while the two visit the bright places. The colour yellow is used throughout the movie which could be seen as hope and joy; something they both bring into each other’s lives.
The score is decent too with some powerful classical numbers. adding to the seriousness and sadness of the subjects at the centre of the movie.
All The Bright Places might not be the most original YA movie out there, following many of the usual tropes you’d expect, but it does manage to deliver a strong message when it comes to mental health. The movie even ends with a link to a page providing help and support for many countries around the world. The movie is quite sad and harrowing at times but it will hopefully make a difference, leaving you to think about your own bright places in life.