A new mental health-themed teen romance is coming to Netflix based on a best-selling young adult book. Titled “All the Bright Places,” it’s Netflix’s first teen drama focused on suicide since “13 Reasons Why.”
Before the book was released in 2015, “All the Bright Places” already had a movie deal in place, according to Variety. Written by Jennifer Niven, the book version follows two young people, Violet and Finch, who meet when they both decide to attempt suicide. Instead, the two spend time exploring Indiana together for a school project and fall in love.
In the book, while Violet starts to heal, Finch continues to struggle with undiagnosed bipolar disorder and a difficult home situation until he disappears. Violet goes searching for him. The film is billed as a “love story” “about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.”
“As they struggle with the emotional and physical scars of their past, they come together, discovering that even the smallest places and moments can mean something,” A Netflix press release describes the movie. “This compelling drama provides a refreshing and human take on the experience of mental illness, its impact on relationships, as well as the beauty and lasting impact of young love.”
The book’s author, Niven, wrote “All the Bright Places” based on knowing a boy like Finch growing up. She told WHSmith in a 2016 interview that the book’s plot is based on her experiences with a friend as a teenager.
“I knew in my bones that the only ending could be the one I wrote, not just because too many stories about teen mental health are tied up in neat little packages with bows on top, but because it’s the ending I lived with the real-life Finch,” Niven said, adding:
I learned a great deal about mental illness, depression and grief. As I was writing ‘All the Bright Places,’ I interviewed experts on the subjects, but really I just put myself in the mind and heart of the boy I once loved. I had witnessed his struggle firsthand, but for the first time I tried to really step into his skin.
There are few additional details and no trailer for “All the Bright Places,” however, the last teen drama Netflix created, “13 Reasons Why,” has similar underlying elements. “13 Reasons Why” romanticized suicide as a mystery to be solved while using the main character’s suicide as a “teaching tool” for the main character. The show also depicted a graphic suicide scene the streaming service eventually removed after suicide prevention advocates showed suicide rates increased after young people watched the series.
Niven has said in interviews she wants teens to get the message from “All the Brighter” things that there is hope. She wanted to meet teens where they are with sometimes really difficult, big emotions, and show them if you’re struggling with your mental health or suicidal thoughts, help is available.
“You are necessary. You are loved. You matter. You are the only you that exists in this world. You are not alone,” Niven said, adding:
It is OK to feel the way you are feeling, but it’s not OK to try to handle it all by yourself. Reach out. Speak up. Let someone know how you’re feeling, or if you’re close to someone who is battling mental illness and you’re worried about that person, reach out and speak up for them. Help is out there. It gets better. Life is long and vast and full of possibility. And know that even when life is darkest, there are bright places everywhere. Know that you are a bright place.
“All the Bright Places” stars Elle Fanning, Justice Smith, Alexandra Shipp, Kelli O’Hara, Keegan-Michael Key and Luke Wilson. It will premiere on Netflix worldwide on Feb. 28, 2020.