All The Bright Places

Violet and Finch meet atop a bridge. He is running across it, she is teetering on its ledge. He offers her a hand, and she takes it.

It’s a powerful and awful way to start a relationship, saving someone’s life. Violet (Elle Fanning) goes to Finch’s school. She is struggling with her sister’s death, a car accident Violet was in the passenger seat for. Finch (Justice Smith) sort of takes her under his wing, coaxing her out of her comfort zone under the guise of a school assignment. They travel to the wondrous places of Indiana, which will kill any thoughts of tourism you may have been harbouring because the wonders are underwhelming at best but Finch presents them with whimsy and charm, and how can Violet resist? But for all his saviour posturing with Violet, Finch has some pretty deep emotional scars of his own.

Despite its title, All The Bright Places can go to some very dark places. The leads are meant to be 17 but the story gives their characters some pretty heavy burdens and some serious sophistication. Fanning and Smith have great chemistry and give grounded performances, saving the film for what might have been maudlin or overwrought. Still, with Violet and Finch confronting grief, abandonment, and struggles with mental health, All The Bright Places is quite weighty for a teenage romance. I’m not sure the film quite handles itself correctly all the time; at times it feels a little superficial and easy. But on the whole I found it quite enjoyable. It’s based on a YA novel by Jennifer Niven and it feels like it. Which is not a criticism, actually, and it does deviate quite a bit from the book, it’s just that it wants to impart some wisdom, it wants to make some profound discoveries, and it doesn’t mind being rather obvious about it, like a parent or a guidance counselor might. Like, if you wanted to extrapolate that you should become your own bright place, the film will nod at you encouragingly while quietly nudging a box of tissues in your direction. Take the box.

16 thoughts on “All The Bright Places

  1. Robyn

    I really liked this book. It was hard to remember they were just in high school. I have this rule forbidding me from seeing movies of the books I like, but this one may be an exception.


  2. Liz A.

    I do like teen movies, but this might be a bit dark for me. My SIL went to college in Indiana, so she might appreciate the sights.


  3. amymayj

    I loved the book of this so I’m quite keen to watch the film, even though they don’t tend to measure up! Will definitely give it a watch at some point.


  4. amymayj

    I loved the book of this so I’m quite keen to watch the film, even though they don’t tend to measure up! Will definitely give it a watch at some point.


  5. Anonymole

    Watched it. Enjoyed it.
    Ranked… The Notebook –> All the Bright Places –> The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
    There are no STARS. Stars are POINTLESS when it comes to choice. What does a three star anything tell you? Nothing.

    There are only binary choices when it comes to singular items (books, movies, candybars, pizza toppings). It’s either choose it or reject it. A or B. On or Off. Yes or No.

    However, there is RANK. If you have 10 movies, all of which deserve to be watched (because they’re all binary choice “1”‘s) you must choose order. That’s where ranking comes in.

    So, do watch All the Bight Places, but only after you’ve watched The Notebook and before you watch The Perks — all of which deserve to be watched.


    1. Jay Post author

      Thanks for your thorough explanation of your personal ranking system. I’d throw this movie at the bottom, and Perks of Being a Wallflower at the top myself.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Anonymole

        Was hoping you might adopt something similar… Your blog is one of the few sources I use to find new movies. Making it convenient to fix a movie into one’s own value system would be nice.


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