Recently, the popular book “All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven was made into a Netflix film. Thanks to the trailers, the book has begun to gain an audience, but the movie is not the romance story between two teens that they make it out to be.
Readers of the book are aware that there is a high emphasis on suicide and death within it.
I had high hopes for the movie especially when I realized that it featured Elle Fanning and Justice Smith as the two main characters. Recognizing both actors from previous films they had starred in, I expected that they would do a great job at playing the characters of Violet Markey and Theodore Finch respectively.
There was also the standard that the book had set from a previous read-through of it. What I got was quite lackluster compared to what was originally thought.
For starters, the main characters meet each other in a completely different location. This wouldn’t have been a problem if where they met did not relate to the central idea of how they interact with each other.
Without giving away spoilers, the two of them meet in a public setting in the book. This sets up their dynamic and hierarchy on the social scale.
In the movie, they meet in a secluded setting which does not establish this idea, until they got to school in the next scene. This prohibits the development of their characters.
The second change is to the amount of background given on Theodore Finch. In the book, Niven is very adamant about setting up his family dynamic and his actions, which have led him to be named “Theodore Freak.”
In the movie, that family dynamic is shown for a brief second with the introduction of Finch’s sister. After that, there is no sign of his family until a later part of the movie, which as also a brief second.
Finch’s actions are also excluded in the movie. Without giving away too much, Finch goes through these phases in the book where he likes to be a different version of himself such as ‘80s Finch. The movie throws away this idea and instead never mentions any of these traits.
Without Finch’s personality shining through, the viewers never get a sense about who he fully is, unlike Violet, who gets the spotlight in the movie.
The movie also brushes over most of the content that builds on Violet and Finch’s relationship.
In the book, the teens are tasked with a Wander Indiana project where they must see at least three attractions in Indiana. Violet and Finch go to more than just three of these, but the movie glosses over them.
Instead of showing them going to at least the few major attractions, the movie shows the first one and then makes a montage of everything else.
Speaking of montages, there are at least three within the hour and a half long movie. No movie needs that many montages, especially when they really don’t have a point and are there to kill time and add filler.
The last major flaw of the movie was the portrayal of the main characters. In the book, Niven establishes that Violet and Finch have lives besides each other, especially in the beginning.
The movie chooses to make their separate lives brief and then doesn’t focus on the relationships they had with the other people in their lives before and after meeting each other.
I’m not saying that the movie is horrible. If I hadn’t read the book, I’m pretty sure it would have been enjoyable; however, “All the Bright Places,” in book format, wins over the Netflix movie.