What’s the story?
Ellie Chu, or Chu Chu as her classmates like to call her, is a timid and intelligent girl who lives with her dad. With a father who does not fit in the U.S. due to his language barriers and a dead mother, she is used to not having any friends. Writing essays for her classmates, she helps her dad in paying the house bills. Paul, being bad with words, asks Ellie to help him write a love letter to his crush, Aster Flores, a super pretty and smart girl who just wants people to like her for who she really is.
Ellie agrees and pretending to be Paul, starts to write to Aster and during this beautiful exchange of love letters and messages, they form a deep-rooted connection with each other as they share the same taste in literature and art. Meanwhile, an endearing and beautiful friendship starts to develop between Paul and Ellie. After a few awkward dates, Aster starts to like Paul for his sweet nature meanwhile Ellie, not quite sure of her feelings, starts to fall in love with Aster. As the three of them deal with their new feelings, their friendship starts to grow and they understand how love can mean different things to different people.
Is it any good?
Written and directed by Alice Wu, this movie is not your typical teen romance with a love triangle; it is something more. It teaches us to be bold and brave in the face of love. It fills your heart with happiness and warmth as Ellie Chu, a gay woman of color, goes on this journey of self-discovery with Paul, who struggles with communicating about his feelings. The friendship that they develop is just what they both need and it as cute as it gets. The thing that sets this movie apart from other teen romances is that this movie’s characters are natural and relatable, and there is no antagonist. It also lightly trespasses over the topic of religion and how it affects teenagers in the discovery of their sexuality. It has a great collection of soundtracks and beautiful filming locations. The cinematography is amazing and it makes every scene a sight to watch, especially the scene where Aster and Ellie go skinny dipping in a lake.
This movie, however, feels more like an ensemble of beautifully created scenes rather than a whole story in one flow. The second half of the movie has many loose ends and underdeveloped narratives like the relationship between Aster and her boyfriend Trig. The three main leads (Leah Lewis, Daniel Diemer and Alexxis Lemire) did an amazing job and the inconsistencies in the plot are barely recognizable because all of the scenes are so aesthetic that you find yourself completely engrossed in every scene.
This is a light and emotional story revolving around friendship and the discovery of love at a young age. The good thing about this movie is that it is not a cliché and talks about real-life struggles of teens with different backgrounds and their sexuality. Ellie, Paul and Aster are three completely different people but their journey of understanding and finding love seems likeable and relatable to many. Despite some major flaws in the plot, this movie has some of the best scenes ever created with amazing cinematography. All in all, it is a meaningful and heartwarming movie to watch for anyone who is a fan of coming of age teen romantic comedies.