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Here, Wu uses it to clever effect, allowing her characters’ inner conflicts to be expressed in real and often contradictory time. It’s exciting, enticing, and filled with hope for what comes next — in this case, seeing what else Wu has up her directorial sleeve. Director Alice Wu On Her New Film 'The Half Of It' Alice Wu's new movie, "The Half of It," is a play on Cyrano de Bergerac with an LGBTQ twist. Wu suffuses “The Half of It” with supreme generosity, especially when she refuses to give her characters the resolutions they crave, and which similar narratives have taught the audience to crave for them. When a sweet, lunkheaded football player named Paul (Daniel Diemer) pays her $25 to write a flowery love letter to a sweet and pretty student named Aster (Alexxis Lemire), Ellie understandably balks. So it comes as a pleasant surprise that the latest movie to hit the platform, Alice Wu’s The Half of It, isn’t so easily categorized. Though Ellie’s teacher, Mrs. Geselschap (Becky Ann Baker), knows who’s behind all the essays she’s reading, she encourages Ellie to apply to colleges beyond their (fictional) town of Squahamish, Washington. Directed by Don Chaffey. Aster’s beauty makes her well-liked at school, but she’s also expected to fit the cheerleader mold like the school’s other popular girls. Cyrano is a witty, intelligent man in love with the beautiful Roxane, however, he believes his unusually large nose will prevent her, or any other woman, from loving him back. Although she makes extra money writing essays for her less hard-working classmates, Ellie is an outsider, enduring the jeers of car-riding classmates as she huffs and puffs on her bike to and from school. ), Reminiscent of “10 Things I Hate About You” in its winning combination of smarts and romantic fantasy, “The Half of It” provides a fabulous showcase for its young lead actors: Raspy-voiced and flawlessly deadpan behind a pair of wire-rimmed glasses, Lewis seamlessly inhabits a character who may be shy but harbors stubborn faith in her own intelligence. Aie! Today he is best known as the inspiration for Edmond Rostand 's most noted drama Cyrano de Bergerac (1897), which, although it includes elements of … The Half of It doesn’t have to be a “big theme” movie to comment on casual racism, or stifling individuality, particularly that of young women, in favor of outdated and patriarchal norms. A country lout who. One night, Cyrano goes to the playhouse at the Hotel de Bourgogne to make trouble: he has forbidden the actor Montfleury to take the stage for one month, but Montfleury plans to perform i… And Lewis makes it clear that Ellie’s outsider status in town has less to do with her personality than the way the rest of her overwhelmingly white town sees her. Once trust has been established through letters, Ellie’s seduction of Aster takes place … The Half of It is streaming on Netflix now. As “The Half of It” opens, the film’s heroine, Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) is suffering quietly through her senior year in the rainy doldrums of Squahamish, Wash., her ambitions to attend Grinnell College foiled by abiding loyalty to her widowed father (Collin Chou) and her own wobbly confidence. It comes as an enjoyable surprise that the most current motion picture to hit the platform, Alice Wu’s The Half of It, isn’t so quickly classified. But new technology is what makes The Half of It work. Take “Cyrano de Bergerac.” Make the title character a woman. Alice Wu’s new film takes pleasure in the details. Guests of all backgrounds arrive and greet each other as they await the beginning of the play. In English, Mandarin and Spanish with subtitles. Ellie is often referred to as “the Chinese girl” wherever she goes, and is so used to it that she doesn’t resist. The Walmart-exclusive Roku Premiere Plus can stream in 4K and includes a voice command remote. Despite Cyranos brilliance and charisma, a shockingly large nose afflicts his appearance, and he considers himself too ugly even to risk telling Roxane his feelings. But first, of course, comes the hard stuff. Organizers announced winners Wednesday for the festival, which had been set to take place from April 15 through April 26 in New York City. It feels sacrilegious to say that a teen romance succeeds by dialing down the usual teen-drama horniness, but what makes The Half of It more than just a retread of Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play (or the updated movie re-imaginings, like Roxanne or The Truth About Cats & Dogs) is its investment in its characters, rather than its kissing. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. Unlike, say, the teens in Glee, they still look young enough that their gawkiness around each other feels genuine, not contrived. Available May 1 via Netflix streaming. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. Ever since Edmond Rostand’s play about the 17th-century French dramatist became boffo box office in 1897, the story has been adapted countless times in countless ways. . NPR's Scott Simon speaks to the director. The concept of a teenage version of Cyrano de Bergerac appears to provide itself to pure romantic fluff, however Wu imbues it with unbelievable depth and factor to consider. The Half of It is loosely based on Cyrano de Bergerac, a 19th-century play that revolves around an eloquent but "ugly" man helping a handsome but … / THE VISCOUNT (choking with rage): Hear his arrogance! By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, A professional critic’s assessment of a service, product, performance, or artistic or literary work. Paul uses emojis with abandon, but Ellie and Aster are both careful about their capitalization and punctuation. “The Half of It,” an endearing romantic comedy that gives “Cyrano de Bergerac” a 21st century refresh, is ostensibly a teen movie. With Ricardo Montalban, Hervé Villechaize, Wendy Schaal, Lloyd Bochner. In other words, she gives them the happy ending every teenager deserves. If the audience has no investment in Paul or Aster’s experiences, the story becomes one-dimensional. The Half of Itfeatures romance, but it’s more of a teen drama than a rom-com, focusing on a coming-of-age immigrant story where romance is one facet of the experience. Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac, (born March 6, 1619, Paris—died July 28, 1655, Paris), French satirist and dramatist whose works combining political satire and science-fantasy inspired a number of later writers. Excerpt from "Cyrano de Bergerac", the play by Edmond Rostand Cyrano's Monologue describing his own nose. . $59.99. Then there are the originals that feel like Lifetime or Hallmark movies, like The Knight Before Christmas or Secret Obsession. The catch: Ellie is harboring a crush on Aster, too. .who. A bold and innovative author, his work was part of the libertine literature of the first half of the seventeenth century. The most important news stories of the day, curated by Post editors and delivered every morning. Lewis, Deimer, and Lemire also make a wonderful trio. Edmond Rostand could never have imagined his play being reincarnated as a lesbian film by the streaming giant Netflix. There: You have “The Half of It,” an endearingly awkward teen romantic comedy premiering on Netflix May 1. Dotting the narrative with hat-tips to Plato, Camus and Sartre — not to mention “Casablanca,” “His Girl Friday” and “Wings of Desire” — Wu keeps the dialogue sharp and the feelings honest, managing to layer in some sincere spiritual questioning while putting her adolescent protagonists through the usual pressures of conformity, class snobbery, peers and parents. With The Half of It, Wu has crafted a love story that tackles love in all senses, not just romantic, prioritizing not just who gets to kiss who, but what each character hopes and dreams for. For more information, see our ethics policy. 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