Depths of despair

The adults too are remarkably disconnected from their children’s depression and continue with their jobs and lives.

Published: 15th March 2020 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th March 2020 08:35 PM   |  A+A-

A still from 'All the bright places'

A still from 'All the bright places'

Express News Service

Set in a nondescript town of Indiana (USA), author Jennifer Niven’s young adult book All the Bright Places on teenage love and depression has been adapted for the screen in a rather colourless and emotionless format by Netflix. Violet Markey (Elle Fanning) and Theodore Finch (Justice Smith) are two teenagers battling depression due to their own unique set of circumstances. They go to the same school but have different set of friends. Their trauma helps them bond but it also makes them blind to each other’s suffering. Both of them are so haunted by their individual sadness that despite being happy together, in the end they are unable to save each other.

The adults too are remarkably disconnected from their children’s depression and continue with their jobs and lives. Violet’s parents who are grieving along with her for their elder daughter’s death make no effort to bond or keep Violet occupied as she wallows in pain. Theodore’s mother is never present and his adult working sister never suspects her brother’s bouts of sadness. The book allowed for imagination to run its own course but the onscreen adaptation feeds us the visuals, thereby leaving the story bereft of the complications of the adolescent mind.

The depression, the bullying at school, the anxiety faced by teenagers and grief on the loss of a loved one don’t come across in any of the scenes. There is only one scene where Theodore on being called a ‘freak’ lashes out at his aggressor. Why exactly he is called a ‘freak’ however remains unclear and is never established. While Violet acts impassive and is generally disinterested (because of her grief), the sadness that engulfs her comes across as snobbery rather than a searing pain that she is carrying around. Theodore’s dark side hiding behind his happy-go-lucky nature never really surfaces.

When he opens up to Violet about his past, it remains unclear about what triggers his trauma. He is mostly seen making wisecracks. But how he switches from good to bad is never captured and thus his disappearances feel like a cliché that were added simply to show viewers that his character is depressed. The complexities of the human mind when dealing with trauma, the helplessness, the overwhelming nature of clinical sadness and simply the intensity of emotions are missing here but can be found in various pages of the book—which at this point we’d highly recommend instead of its lacklustre adaptation. Somehow, All the Bright Places manages to induce dullness to teenage romance. Even the popular trope of song references have no recall value in the end. John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars adaptation, which had similar elements of YA romance and death, turned to be a roaring success simply perhaps of the deftness with which the subject was handled.                    

Stay up to date on all the latest Entertainment Review news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp