A pang of guilt as well as the shock of recognition hit me while watching the new trailer for The Half Of It, the new film from Saving Face filmmaker Alice Wu. First off, as an Asian American cinephile I’m embarrassed that I still haven’t seen Wu’s critically acclaimed 2004 indie feature (that will be rectified!). Secondly, The Half of It looks like a teen drama that carries a resonant, universal truth.
Penned and directed by Alice Wu, The Half of It centers on Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) who ghostwrites papers for fellow classmates to make ends meet. Her closest pal is her widowed father (Collin Chou), and the pair bond over their love for old movies.
When a jock Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer) hires her to pen love letters to popular classmate Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire), a teen love triangle emerges. Though the plot may strike a familiar tone to fans of Cyrano de Bergerac, the narrative contains an interesting twist. Although Ellie’s secret crush is also Aster, the true love that surfaces centers on the growing friendship between her and Paul.
The tale is a personal one for Wu, as it is inspired by a close and unexpected friendship she had in high school. That friendship left its mark on the filmmaker. “So here I am, staring down the barrel of mid-life, having just made a movie about teenagers,” said Wu in her director’s statement. “Now that it’s done, I can see a few things more clearly. For one: I used to think there was only one way to love. That A plus B minus C equals Love. Now that I’m older, I see there are more. So many more ways to love than I had ever imagined.”
I did not want to cut and past Wu’s entire director’s statement in this post because it gives spoilers to the ending of Saving Face as well as a slight hint about The Half of It’s climax! One can tell that both of her films come from a deeply intimate place.
Speaking of Saving Face, I also read actress Lynn Chen’s blog and she has an amazing unlock on how to properly cook frozen dumplings! Since I can barely toast a pop tart, I’ll definitely be using that method to up my culinary skills!
I’m also going to check out The Half of It because it reminds me of my own friendship with Find Your Seen co-creator Deandra Miranda. Our friendship started out in 2009 (I was the one with the crush) but thankfully I got over my infatuation and we have been the best of friends (at least from my perspective!) ever since.
The Half of It debuts on Netflix May 1. Will you be watching this movie, and have you seen Saving Face? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts!