Warning: this movie deals with mental health issues, suicidal ideation, and ultimately, suicide. If you’re not comfortable with this topic, this is your chance to go read something way more fun, like our review of I Am Not Okay With This. If not, then join us as we talk the bright and not so bright of All the Bright Places.
I’m not very good at movie adaptations when I haven’t read the book. I was on a deadline with this, however, and I promised myself I’d watch the screener, write the review and then go buy the book. The thing is, after having watched the movie, felt the movie, and yes, enjoyed the movie at times, I’m not so sure I want to.
This kind of pain doesn’t need to be felt twice, I don’t think.
I have my own issues, we all do, but I don’t have bipolar disorder and I have not known anyone who personally committed suicide, so my feelings on these topics are the feelings of someone seeing it from the outside. As such, there were parts of the movie that absolutely got me, and there were parts I honestly enjoyed, but in general, when it comes to All the Bright Places as an experience, I’m not exactly sure what I felt, or if I enjoyed any part of what I felt.
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Would I watch this again? The answer is probably no. Do I regret watching it? The answer to that is probably no, as well. I’ve watched way worse things for the sake of my job, and I will again in the future, I’m sure. This, in my very limited opinion, isn’t terrible, even if it does rely a little too much on the idea that love can – or should – save you from mental illness, which is a dangerous notion to romanticize, even if in general, I would agree that it is good to see this genre of books – of movies – dealing head on with mental health issues, because these are things that are happening to us, to kids, and the more we talk about them, the more likely someone will reach out and ask for the help they need.
However, I wouldn’t say it was an uplifting experience to watch this, either. I related to Violet’s grief and her guilt very closely, because I think grief – no matter who you lose – is very similar in many ways, and yet so personal in others. The sense of emptiness that you feel? The notion that you would give up everything good in your life to trade places with that person that you lost? That’s not unfamiliar to me.
Still, it’s not something I was necessarily looking to be reminded of, and not something I will be replaying over and over, or even once more.
Then, there’s the ending. A part of me understands it, the same part that lost someone and knows that life sucks sometimes, and there’s no explanation for that, no miracle happy ending coming out of nowhere to fix things. Sometimes you just get stuck with the bad cards, and you have to play the hand anyway. Life doesn’t give you an out.
And yet, there’s another part of me that can’t help but rebel at this kind of entertainment. I know life is like this, and I even understand why entertainment would want to portray this reality, but do I want to watch it? Do I need a reminder of something I already learned, the hard way?
Ultimately, All the Bright Places is a warm, heartfelt movie, perfectly acted and beautifully shot. It’s just not the movie for me, and that’s okay. That’s the beauty of entertainment. There’s something for everyone.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of All the Bright Places? Was it all you expected? Share with us in the comments below!
All the Bright Places is available to stream on Netflix now.