All The Bright Places: 8 Big Differences Between The Book And The Movie

Elle Fanning and Justice Smith in All The Bright Places
(Image credit: (Netflix))

They often say you shouldn’t read a book first if you want to enjoy the movie at all. It’s because we live with books a lot longer than the runtime of a movie. And there’s only so much that can fit into a script. There are quite a few changes (or more so, parts missing) from Netflix’s All The Bright Places that Jennifer Niven wrote in her 2015 best-selling novel.

SPOILERS ahead for All The Bright Places. It’s time to talk through the big differences made to the teen romance with its Netflix adaptation by Hearts Beat Loud director Brett Haley, starring Elle Fanning and Justice Smith. Let’s get into it:

Justice Smith and Elle Fanning on bridge in All the bright Places

(Image credit: (Netflix))

Violet and Finch Meet On a Bridge Instead Of A Bell Tower

Netflix’s All The Bright Places opens on Theodore Finch going on a morning run when he sees Violet Markey standing on the ledge of the bridge where her sister was killed in a fatal car accident. He walks up to her and ultimately gets her to snap out of her trance. In the book, it’s the high school’s bell tower and many other students see both of them on the ledge. It leads to much of the school to think Violet talked Finch down and she’s some sort of hero. The change made in the movie is actually a great edit to the story because its circumstances are in line with both of the characters and the story itself.

Elle Fanning as Violet Markey in All The Bright Places

(Image credit: (Netflix))

Violet Has A Passion For Writing

The story of All The Bright Places has a lot to do with Finch helping Violet get back on her feet after the death of her older sister, Eleanor. The movie gets the broader strokes of the book right, such as getting her back in the car for the first time and taking her on adventures that bring out the fun in her again. However, one aspect about Violet that the movie misses is her passion for writing. In the book, she and Eleanor used to have an online magazine together but she’s stopped since her death. Once she and Finch “wander” together, she gets back into it again and even thinks up a new website called “Germ Magazine”.

Justice Smith in bathtub in All the Bright Places

(Image credit: (Netflix))

Theodore Finch Has A Fascination With Death

The beauty of a book in contrast to a movie is you often get the internal monologue of a character. And in Jennifer Niven’s All The Bright Places, from the beginning we have some context into Finch’s thoughts on death. He’s really intrigued by the ways in which people die and he’s constantly spewing out interesting ways in which people have committed suicide in the past. And it’s this fascination that brings him and Violet on the same bell tower. The movie doesn’t make it as obvious that Finch thinks about this, other than his dunk into his bathtub early on.

Elle Fanning and Justice Smith in All the Bright Places

(Image credit: (Netflix))

We Meet Theodore Finch’s Dad In The Book

In the movie, there’s certainly mention of Finch’s abusive father but it’s treated more generically. He doesn’t seem to be in their lives at all and might have passed away. Finch doesn’t particularly remember him but he does have a massive scar from a beating he took as a small child. It’s an important emotional element to the story, but in the book there’s more of a part to play. Finch’s father is a retired famous hockey player who has since remarried and is raising his young son (who may or may not be his). Finch and his father see each other often clash.

Felix Mallard as Roamer in All The Bright Places

(Image credit: (Netflix))

Ryan Just Doesn't Exist In The Netflix Movie

Toward the beginning of the Netflix movie, Violet has a conversation with a boy at the party she goes to for a short time. He asks her when she’s going to stop acting like she is and go back to before. It’s obviously not a great thing to say to someone and she walks off. I thought it was Ryan, but turns out he was Roamer and Ryan is not in this movie at all. In Niven’s novel, it’s explained that her and Ryan used to date and since her sister died they kind of just stopped. After meeting Finch, at first Violet tries to go on a couple dates with him but she’s not feeling it.

Elle Fanning and Justice Smith kiss in All The Bright Places

(Image credit: (Netflix))

The Context Of Finch and Violet’s First Kiss

To those who went into All The Bright Places blind, there’s one scene that might have come off kind of strangely: Violet and Finch’s first kiss. In the movie, they are coming off a really great day and they have a nice moment in the car. Suddenly Finch just stops the car, gets out and stares at Violet – and then they start making out. In the book when the pair are filling in “Before I Die” blanks in chalk, Finch writes that he wants to kiss her but he doesn’t tell her when. So at the moment of their kiss, he stops the car and says he thought he could wait but he can’t and thus, the big first kiss happens.

Justice Smith and Elle Fanning in All The Bright Places

(Image credit: (Netflix))

Finch’s Downward Spiral After Their Night Out

In the movie, it makes it seem like after he has the falling out with Violet’s parents it’s all downhill from there for Finch. He stops talking to Violet, throws down his sticky notes and ultimately commits suicide at the lake. However, in the book there’s much more to it. At first he does text Violet back about the whole thing with their parents and they are doing okay. But then he gets expelled from school for that fight with Roamer. He attempts suicide first by consuming a bunch of sleeping pills. Feeling bad about it, he rushes himself to the ER and gets his stomach pumped. This is when Violet confronts him and he runs off.

Elle Fanning as Violet Markey in All the Bright Places

(Image credit: (Netflix))

Violet Swims In To Look For Finch At The End Of The Book

The heartbreaking conclusion to To All The Bright Places is pretty much the same. Finch dies. However at the moment when she finds his car and clothes at the lake, she doesn’t believe it right away. She says to herself “People like Theodore Finch don’t die. He’s just wandering” as she dives in and tries to find him. Later when the police come, they find his body, ask her to identify him and she’s still in denial of it. She does call his family and break the news. It certainly would have made for a more brutal finale to the film that might have been too tough for many viewers to take.

Overall, what did you think of the changes made to All The Bright Places? Sound off in the comments and vote in our poll below!

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Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.