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By Kat Kaderabek
All The Bright Places is not the typical teenage romance movie Netflix has become known for producing. Romantic comedies like The Kissing Booth, The Perfect Date, and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before are the feel-good, rather generic movies set to entertain the audience. All The Bright Places, though, is different.
The movie is beautiful, unexpected, educational, and most importantly, it is real. It is based on the young-adult novel by Jennifer Niven. The plot follows Violet Markey who suffers from depression after losing her sister in a car accident. She has removed herself from her old life and instead recluses herself during her teenage years. Fellow classmate, Theodore Finch, nicknamed “The Freak,” notices that she is struggling. He quickly makes it his mission to push her back into the real world.
Partnered together for a school project, the two must discover several “wonders” of Indiana. These “wonders” are places worth noting or monuments that are important to the state. Finch slowly leads Violet to several beautiful yet ordinary places, such as the highest point in Indiana, which allows her to open up to the world again.
Slowly, throughout the movie, the audience begins to see Violet open herself up to joy and love. She laughs more and spends more time with her family and begins reaching out to her friends. While the audience is so focused on the main character, Violet, they miss the signs of depression in her savior, Finch.
This is what makes All The Bright Places so different and emotional. The film centers around a girl, unaware of the other characters that have very real problems going on while she deals with the death of her sister. This includes Violet’s friend Amanda, who is revealed to be bulimic and suicidal.
All The Bright Places brings to light the struggles behind closed doors, the intensity of hurtful words and their effects, and the ability of all people to be that bright, “beautiful place” for someone else when they feel worthless.
This is a story of love and death, as well as a coming of age tale about the struggles of mental illness. Reflecting on the movie, the magnitude of it cannot be understated; there is a lesson or a sign in every scene.
All The Bright Places is very accurate to the modern age, and for that reason, the movie transcends the genre of young-adult romance. While that is a part of the movie, it is not the most important aspect of Violet and Finch’s story. All The Bright Places should be shown to everyone– adults, teenagers, and even middle-schoolers. It is informative of the signs of suicide, the struggles of mental illness, and it is instructive on how to pull onself out of the darkness and into a brighter place.
This movie is powerful and moving. It should be watched by everyone, but most especially those who struggle with mental illness. There is a positive message within the darkness that surrounds the ending of the film: there is a “bright place” within everyone. Violet Markey quickly becomes a witness to those places of light, introduced to her by Theordore Finch.
This is not the drama-filled, action-sequenced blockbuster that will be talked about everywhere. This movie is real life and it encompasses much of what discovering oneself means in an age where mental illness is slowly becoming destigmatized. All The Bright Places is a step in the right direction for creating an environment for open discussions about emotions, especially involving men. The film emphasizes the impact that one person can have on another’s life and the beautiful moments they leave behind. The ending credits of the movie dedicate themselves to those struggling with mental illness and thoughts of suicide, encouraging all to reach out to their own “bright places” in their lives.