Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

'Turtles All the Way': HBO Max Movie Review. A hidden film gem

  • 17-year-old Aza Holmes (Isabela Merced) tries to face fears. However, this is not an easy task. However, she tries to be a good daughter, a good friend and a good student, while navigating a never-ending stream of intrusive, obsessive thoughts. As she reconnects with Davis, her childhood love, she faces fundamental questions about her potential for love, happiness, friendship and hope.
  • Movie “Turtles all the way” can be watched on HBO Max from May 2. It is a film adaptation of the novel of the same title by the widely read writer John Green (“The Fault in Our Stars”, “Looking for Alaska”).

At the beginning of May, another film adaptation of the novel by John Green “quietly” debuted on the HBO Max platform. Years ago, a film adaptation of the book “The Fault in Our Stars” with Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in the main roles, touched the hearts of millions of viewers around the world. Subsequent productions based on the famous writer's novel (the film “Paper Towns”, the mini-series “Looking for Alaska”) did not win as much sympathy from the audience. As will be the case with the next one film adaptation?

The film “Turtles Until the End”, based on the book of the same title, similarly to “The Fault in Our Stars”, tells the story of illness, but this time the author focused on mental disorders. This is a much less spectacular production than the hit from 2014, but it once again captures the viewer's heart and stays with him long after the screening.

The main character of the film “Turtles Until the End”, Aza (Isabela Merced), suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Her life is filled with fear. She gets worried when there are too many bacteria around her. He is not very good at communicating with his peers. Her head is filled with intrusive, obsessive thoughts that torment her in every situation that occurs in her daily life. He can count on support from his best friend, Daisy (Cree Cicchino), but at some point their friendship is put to the test.

Aza's disorders are the result of a tragic event. The heroine grows up in the shadow of trauma related to the death of her father. Instead of living, it exists. And the obsessive thoughts do not let her go even for a minute. She goes to a psychologist who encourages her to take medications regularly. Aza rebels because she thinks that drug therapy will make her not be her “true self.” Her mental health suffers, which leads to tragic events.

The director of “Turtles Until the End” is only 31-year-old Hannah Marks. When talking about an extremely important topic of our times, which is mental health among young people, we must demonstrate sincerity and empathy. The line between liking the characters and hating them is very thin in this case. It was easy to fall into the harmful pattern of presenting the main character as a helpless victim, with nothing more to offer than the disease she struggles with. Fortunately, the film “Turtles Until the End” honestly shows the struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder, because it is neither an overexposed topic nor the main personality feature of teenage Aza.

“Turtles All the Way” is a story about growing up in the shadow of trauma. About imperfect friendship. About first infatuations. About choosing a career path. There was also a criminal motif here, which in my opinion could have been omitted. It serves as a pretext for the meeting of Aza and Davis (Felix Mallard), and then for the development of their relationship, but I believe that the proverbial shortcut and taking the easy way were used here.

Directed by Marks, the film is a relief. Relief that contemporary creators can talk about teenagers' problems without depriving them of their autonomy. “Turtles All the Way” is a movie that flows through. We watch the everyday life of the main character and we willingly become involved in it. We try to understand her, sometimes we feel sorry for her, other times we judge her. Thanks to the multi-threaded nature, it is impossible to shake the impression that the story had the potential to produce a miniseries.

After watching titles such as “Fuck Mickiewicz” or “Club Zero”, which in my opinion were… well, to put it mildly, not very successful, the film “Turtles Until the End” gives me hope for “coming of age” productions, that efficiently talk about current problems of young people and honestly portray their everyday life. And at the same time, they make us reflect, staying with us long after the viewing.


“Turtles Until the End”, dir. Hannah Marks. Premiere date on HBO Max: May 2, 2024

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