We wish each and every one of the characters in the Netflix teen rom-com “Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between” the best of luck, but we’re not sure there’s enough material for an entire film. There isn’t much conflict when Mom’s new boyfriend, who makes references to “getting thrown off the City Council,” sings the praises of Mom’s almost too-good-to-be-true daughter and is the sketchiest character in the entire novel. If you’re looking for a wholesome spin on the “One Last Crazy Night” theme, this is a pleasant and straightforward movie with a likeable cast. It’s fairly… OK.
“Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between,” based on the same-titled book by young adult author Jennifer E. Smith, opens with Clare (Talia Ryder) and her best friend Stella (Ayo Edebiri from “The Bear”) attending a costume party in a large suburban house in what we’ll call America Land (the film was shot in Manitoba and British Columbia, but these kids don’t seem to be Canadian).
The Michael Lewen-directed film Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between intensifies the TATBILB aesthetic with moody pop music, crop tops and skirts, bottled chemistry bubbling with naturalistic ribbing, enviable homes in the Pacific Northwest, the spectre of distant elite colleges, a cast made up of people of different races, and sober parties where no one actually gets intoxicated. The movie skillfully captures the emotional dissonance of being a teenager in the suburbs—chaotic, wildly powerful feelings in a steadfast, essentially conservative setting.
Clare’s breakup plan is made to seem less like an awkward plot device and more like the genuine reaction of a person who is simultaneously scared, confused, and awed by the future by Ryder, who impressed as a teen helping her cousin get an out-of-state abortion in the sombre indie drama Never Rarely Sometimes Always. Doe-eyed and on the verge of quivering, she exudes internal tension and convincingly adopts very adolescent reasoning, such as mistaking arbitrary endings for independence and mistaking concealing one’s feelings for adulthood. Fisher manages to equal her naturalism despite being a less natural actor playing a more sophisticated character. The two share a natural closeness, and you can never doubt that Clare and Aidan truly love one another in the manner that 18-year-olds do, and that love counts for a lot.
Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between succeeds because, not in spite of, this sincerity; no matter how corny, occasionally formulaic, or ludicrous Clare and Aidan’s predicament may seem, it never loses sight of the fact that their sentiments count. The movie never goes under the polished veneer of its style, but it does explore the teen-specific fallacy that you can plunge headfirst into intense emotions without suffering the consequences.
The dialogue is often self-conscious, as though the characters are aware that they are in an adolescent film. There are scenes of ice skating, boat rides, waving sparklers, dancing, more dancing, light kissing, and now it’s time for another pop song. It all ends in around 80 carefree minutes. In this story, “Everything in Between” isn’t used too often. The only true words to exchange are “hello” and “goodbye,” and the rest is up to you.