Review: All the Bright Places

Elle Fanning and Justice Smith in All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places looks at some very serious topics through the eyes of young people. It’s a touching, powerful film about grief, mental health, and suicide. Heavy stuff, but dealt with in sensitive and ultimately hopeful ways.

Elle Fanning in All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places stars Elle Fanning as Violet. A year ago she lost her sister in a car wreck. On her sister’s birthday, grief is about to get the better of her. That’s when she meets Theodore Finch (Justice Smith).

Finch, as he’s mostly called, recognizes that Violet needs help. He reaches out to her. He bosses and cajoles her into coming out of the downward spiral she was in.

Their relationship develops slowly because of a school project requiring them to find and write about interesting places in their home state of Indiana.

As the film moves slowly through the story of Violet and Finch, we see glimmers that perhaps Finch has mental health issues of his own.

The families of these two young adults and their friends all form part of the story. These two aren’t the only ones with hard life problems to deal with.

The structure of the story, the way it was written, was a slow build up. The characters had time to breathe and grow. They had time to develop depth.

The film was based on a novel by Jennifer Niven, who co-wrote the screenplay with Liz Hannah. Brett Haley was the director.

I thought both Elle Fanning and Justice Smith did a wonderful job with their parts. However, I felt a sense of cognitive dissonance over the relative heights of the two actors. Seen from a distance, Elle Fanning is obviously bigger and taller than Justice Smith. But in close ups, he was always made to look several inches taller than her. Why? Is that more manly or some such? What was wrong with them being what they are? It grew distracting after a while, which is too bad in a film about such important topics.

My height nitpicks aside, I thought this was an excellent film. I certainly recommend it. It had depth, sadness, joy, and beauty.

Poster for All the Bright Places

Here’s the trailer.

Have you seen All the Bright Places? Did it resonate with you?

Author: Virginia DeBolt

After many years as an educator and writer, Virginia retired from working life. She's always loved a good movie or TV show and wants to use her free time to talk about them with you now. She's Old Ain't Dead!

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