In the Indian context when someone says – there’s another half for you waiting in this world, most of us are not generally taught to even think that the other half could be a person of the same gender. We are often taught to think in terms of heterosexual relationships. When I heard the 2020 title – “The Half Of It” – I was bored to death and reluctant to watch the movie. Another cliché love movie or so I thought. However, I had never been so wrong about a movie before.
Having watched “Call Me By Your Name” in 2017, I was impressed at the gay love story portrayed so bravely and beautifully in the film. The intimate scenes in the movie were bolder than I imagined, they added a new perspective and normalised being gay. But I knew that there was still time till such a movie came about lesbian relationships. Patriarchy is prevalent even in homosexual relationships where the stigma for lesbians is greater than that faced by gays.
“The Half Of It” was a shocker to me. It was offbeat. It broke stereotypes. It changed how I felt about things. The movie was very open in creating a new revolution of thought. It did not portray a lesbian relationship between two white women, it went much further than that.
The lead character is a half Japanese girl who falls for an American girl – a Japanese character as a lead in a film about homosexuality is already very interesting. The diversity in race depicted here is inclusive and makes it more interesting than merely diversity in sexual orientation. Watching a Japanese and American romantic relationship of any kind is rare on screen, let alone a homosexual relationship involving a Japanese girl.
The Japanese girl is discriminated against at school giving the audience a perspective on how much harder it can be for minorities to be open about their sexual orientation which can cause further discrimination.
The movie not only focusses on homosexuality but also other societal issues too. Hence, it is interesting for many other niches to watch. Unlike “Call Me By Your Name” which is a very specialised homosexual love story, “The Half Of It” is much more.
The fact that the movie is set up in a high school environment makes it more susceptible to changing young minds who get impacted by what they see and relate.
“Call Me By Your Name” was not viewable for under 18 and had an A rating which prevented it from being accessible to teenagers. Hence, “Call Me By Your Name” shifted perceptions related to homosexual relationships for adults but not teenagers in India. Having “The Half Of It” on Netflix was even more revolutionary because it is accessible to all age groups and does not have an A rating. This has many benefits as students who are homosexual may be able to watch the movie and realise that their sexual orientation is “normal”. Moreover, they will face less stigma and will have something to relate to during their school life while possibly dealing with friends and families while exploring their own identity.
Generally, movies highlight the plight of single mothers on screen, however, “The Half Of It” portrays a single Japanese father. This gives us a rare insight about the hardship and loneliness faced by a single father in America. His journey of staying aloof from his daughter while raising her at the same time is commendable. His character makes us realise how Indian fathers may be very similar – unable to connect with their daughters over a mutual talking point but still caring about them.
The movie has various deep and interesting quotes which makes it engrossing. “Everything beautiful is ruined eventually” and “Gravity is matter’s response to loneliness” are some of my favourite lines from the film. I recommend everyone to watch it, because it’s not just a movie about homosexuality, it is much more than that.