Finch Brings to Life the Reality of Mental Illness in 'All the Bright Places'

Chrissy Bobic - Author

Mar. 3 2020, Updated 1:15 p.m. ET

all the bright places finch
Source: Netflix

When Netflix brought the young adult novel All the Bright Places to life with a film of the same name, it gave new and old fans the chance to see a realistic, if heartbreaking, teenage romance in the flesh. The story focuses on the struggles of Violet, who is trying to find her place in the world a year after her sister’s sudden death, and Finch, who is constantly looking for reasons to want to live.

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Needless to say, they find purpose in each other and although the movie ends tragically, the story that unfolds between the teens is one full of new love and hopefulness. In the end, however, Finch’s own mental illness becomes part of his demise and, as if the film had been pushing him to it the entire time, his part of the story doesn’t end well.

violet finch
Source: Netflix
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So, what’s wrong with Finch in 'All the Bright Places'?

There isn't anything inherently wrong with Finch in All the Bright Places, but it’s clear from the start of the movie that his story is one that is shrouded in details of his apparent mental illness. In fact, the movie as a whole does a solid job of expressing the reality of mental illness among young people and how kids can be suffering without everyone around them even realizing it.

Although the movie doesn't come right out to explain Finch’s mental illness, it's clear that he is living with Bipolar Disorder, as his character did in the book. Finch’s description of being "asleep" and floating through different events in his life when he isn't "awake" is a clear analogy for experiencing the highs and lows someone with Bipolar Disorder might deal with. Unfortunately for Finch, his mental illness is part of what drives him to suicide in the end.

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The 'All the Bright Places' book paints Finch's mental illness in a darker way.

In the movie, Finch and Violet essentially save each other at different times. It’s their friendship and, eventually, their love which helps them work through their own emotions and issues. Because Finch is clearly dealing with mental illness, his relationship with Violet isn’t everything he needs, but it does save him for a little while.

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The relationship is just as important in the All the Bright Places book, but Finch’s personality traits are even more emphasized in the novel. His obsession with death and different ways to die are more blatantly outlined in the book. And although he does commit suicide in the Netflix film, the book version of Finch struggles even more.

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Will there be an 'All the Bright Places' sequel?

The All the Bright Places book didn’t pave the way for a sequel and there still isn't word on a sequel book. But with the fast success of the Netflix movie, there is always the chance that there could still be a sequel to the film. If Netflix were to release a sequel, the movie could focus on Violet in the aftermath of Finch’s death and how she moves forward with her life after another huge loss.

At the heart of the movie, Finch’s mental illness is a constant reminder that he isn't totally OK, even if he and Violet find common ground with each other. And it’s also a reminder about the reality of living with something you can’t control while navigating hormones and emotions that are already complicated enough.

All the Bright Places is now streaming on Netflix.

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