Movie Review: All The Bright Places starring Elle Fanning & Justice Smith

Image Source: Netflix

All The Bright Places

Production Companies: Echo Lake Entertainment & Kaplan Company Demarest Media
Director: Brett Haley
Producers: Paula Mazur, Mitchell Kaplan, Elle Fanning, Brittany Kahan- Ward, Doug Mankoff & Andrew Spaulding
Scriptwriters: Jennifer Niven & Liz Hannah
Main Cast: Elle Fanning, Justice Smith, Alexandra Shipp, Keegan-Michael Key, Virginia Gardner & Luke Wilson
Release Date: February 28 2020
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Certificate: 15

All The Bright Places was added to the collection of Netflix Originals in 2020. The film tells the narrative of Violet (Elle Fanning) and Finch (Justice Smith). Both are teenagers dealing with the ordinary pressures of school. But at the same time, they learn to battle their personal struggles.


The story explores the separate lives of Violet and Finch as they ultimately connect and become the unlikely couple. Along the way, they learn each other’s secret demons, form a powerful bond and embark on their relationship.

The film begins with Violet dealing with the loss of her sister. Meeting on a bridge, Finch and Violet begin their ‘strange’ relationship by the prevention of Violet ending hers. It’s a strange relationship as described by the school; Violet is popular and a hardworking student. But Finch is branded the school’s ‘weirdo’ who is close to being excluded and, most importantly, is the opposite of Violet.

They’re given a school project where they’re expected to visit different ‘hotspots’ in Indiana. Finch convinces Violet to work with him and she states she will, but with one condition; no cars involved. Violet explains earlier that her sister died in a car accident, so she now refuses to get into cars. The project now involves them cycling around Indiana together.

After spending a lot of time together, the two form an unbreakable bond and eventually fall in love. In this process, Finch manages to get Violet to talk about the death of her sister, allowing her to heal. At the same time, Finch’s mental health is deteriorating. The two stay out past Violet’s ‘curfew’ before Finch takes Violet home to her parents (Kelli O’Hara and Luke Wilson). Evidently, this results in an argument and concludes with the two being restricted from seeing each other again. This begins a downward spiral for Finch.

Violet attempts to help Finch, but after a heated argument, Finch pushes her away. Violet is still concerned but struggles to understand what he is saying. After Finch runs away from home, the two share conversations over text. However, Violet can’t make sense of the cryptic messages. Violet in a conversation with her father expresses her concern about Theodore Finch and how much she misses him.

After some thought, Violet connects the missing pieces. She figures out that Finch is at the ‘Blue Hole’, a place on the Indiana road trip. When she reaches the destination, she becomes distraught when she realises Finch had drowned himself.

The film ends with Violet presenting her project to the class. Her findings explore their adventures, showing the classmates a side to Finch that they hadn’t seen. In conclusion, the lesson that the film gives its audience is stated in Violet’s final parts of dialogue: “There are bright places, even in dark times. And if there isn’t, you can be that bright place with infinite capacities.”


Although the synopsis states otherwise, the film has multiple moments of great fun, including a few sing-songs and sarcastic humour. The light-hearted moments offer a break from the narrative along with further character development. To sum this up, we see Violet heal from her tragedy and become a new person. Finch for some time is incredibly happy. It’s a great film that explores the pressures and highlights of school, relationships and social media.

Best of all, the casting of Violet and Finch is spot on. The mood of both characters compared to the book is portrayed to a very high standard by Fanning and Smith. It’s a difficult narrative, but the two offer convincing and emotional performances. These actors allow an audience to connect with them, which is crucial to the plot of this film.

Finally, upon analysis, I personally prefer the book. However, this is nothing against the Netflix rendition. The film sticks incredibly close to the book, though for me it lacks the personal narration from the characters. Nevertheless, this film was an enjoyable watch, even if I did cry!


In summary, it’s a film for me that isn’t perfect. However, on balance, All The Bright Places is an emotional movie that deals with difficult topics but is indeed worth the watch. If you haven’t already done so, I recommend you watch the film, as you won’t be disappointed.


Target Audience: Ages 15+
Content: Strong Language, Suicide & Violence
Recommendation?: Yes

Overall Rating: 8.5/10 – Excellent

Further Details

For more information about All The Bright Places, click here.