Netflix has become the place for teen romance. The streamer’s latest original film, Alice Wu’s The Half of It, looks like a spiritual successor to To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before — albeit with a twist that proves sometimes the greatest love stories aren’t romantic in nature.
In The Half of It, Nancy Drew star Leah Lewis plays Ellie Chu, a smart, self-proclaimed outsider in her small town. While Ellie doesn’t have much in the way of friends, she does provide her peers with a valuable service: writing essays in exchange for hard cash. When popular boy Paul (Daniel Diemer) approaches her, she assumes he needs her to write a homework assignment. Instead, Paul wants Ellie to help him pen the words that will make his crush Aster (Alexxis Lemire) fall for him.
Yep, it’s another Netflix twist on Cyrano de Bergerac, two years after fellow Cyrano tale Sierra Burgess Is a Loser. (Or is this a twist on The Parent Trap? Someone have the leads of Set It Up battle this one out.)
Ellie’s not keen on writing the letter, until she meets Aster and becomes just as taken by her as Paul is. As Ellie uses her words to woo Aster on Paul’s behalf, she grows closer to Paul than she’s ever been with anyone, leading to a particularly complicated love triangle Ellie could have never predicted.
Sure, there’s bound to be drama, but if Ellie spoke to Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, she would know that sometimes letters that bring about serious drama are also the thing that opens up a world of possibilities. In Lara Jean’s case, it was a relationship with Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo). Here, the letters could eventually give Ellie an opportunity to declare her love for Aster. But they also may help her find a best friend in a lonely world.
The Half of It is Wu’s second feature, preceded by Saving Face. In the 2006 romantic comedy, a Chinese American doctor falls for a ballerina, while battling her family’s expectations. Without spoiling too much, there’s a lovely ending for the couple at the center of that film — so fingers crossed that Ellie’s letters to Aster bring her mostly joy, too.
Check out the trailer below. The Half of It debuts on Netflix May 1, 2020.