In the upcoming Netflix film The Half of It, high school student Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) is renowned for her prowess with the pen — at least in terms of writing her classmates’ papers for them as a side gig. But when sweet football jock Paul (Daniel Diemer) propositions her to craft a letter to his crush, Aster (Alexxis Lemire), Ellie soon discovers how deep her crush on the object of his affection goes.
Meanwhile, when Ellie’s not spending her free time watching classic Hollywood cinema with her father and minding the train that comes through the station outside their house, she and Paul navigate the nuances of their unlikely friendship.
The film is a modern take on the playwright Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac, but it’s also culled from director Alice Wu’s friendship with a straight male best friend who helped her come to terms with her gay identity and the emotional intimacy they shared.
The movie is Wu's return to filmmaking after about 15 years. Her beloved first feature, 2004's Saving Face, explored the intersections of Chinese American and lesbian identities.
“So here I am, staring down the barrel of mid-life, having just made a movie about teenagers. Now that it’s done, I can see a few things more clearly," Wu wrote in her director's letter. "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.”
The Half of It, out on Netflix May 1, is a funny and poignant ode to love and intimacy of various kinds.
Watch the trailer for the film below.