All the Bright Places a Netflix Success

Bettina Sanford, Staff Writer

All the Bright Places, based on the bestselling novel by Jennifer Niven, depicts the story of Violet Markey and Theodore Finch played by Elle Fanning and Justice Smith. The moment the two meet causes their lives to be altered completely. The opening scene shows Violet standing atop a bridge looking down. Justice who happens to be walking by notices her standing on the dangerous ledge and his curiosity causes him to ask what she is doing. Violet yells for him to leave her alone, but his sick sense of humor is often used as a coping mechanism which the viewer learns as the movie progresses, makes him get on the ledge with her. He makes a joke out of the situation by balancing on the ledge with one leg. They both look like such different people and come from such opposite sides of the tracks, what could they possibly have in common? They both shield their broken pasts from the world and struggle with the physical and emotional scars they still carry.

The movie premiered on Netflix so audiences can view as long as they have a subscription. Off to a great start, All the Bright Places currently has a 79% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, an American review website for film and television. Finch (Justice Smith) is in danger of being expelled from school for his erratic behavior. While Violet (Elle Fanning), previously a social butterfly, now finds herself isolated in the midst of her sister’s sudden death. Finch’s reputation at school is that he is “dangerous,” known to lash out angrily, knock over desks, and start fights. But with Violet’s influence on him, we are able to see Finch as a teenager traumatized by past abuse that might be the cause of his dark moods.

The film does not have to put much effort into speaking to teenagers, and also to the teenagers adults once were, about how to cope with and adapt to those first big losses in life and quite possibly the ones that you don’t see coming. Smith and Fanning bring about an innovative sober spin on the YA romantic novel.

Perhaps the most important message in this young adult novel and film is its ability to handle the sensitive topics of grief and mental illness, in addition to the more everyday highs and lows of adolescent feelings. But it isn’t all sadness here; “All the Bright Places” focuses on the value of small joys, even amid larger pain. This was an amazing film that really opens your eyes to troubles others might be going through. It helps the viewer learn about compassion as well as an insight to teen mental illness and love. If you have free time to go on an emotional roller coaster for one hour and 47 minutes you must see “All the Bright Places.”