Watching Netflix’s newest romantic comedy, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, left me giddier and more all up in my feels than any other recent movie.
Based on Jenny Han’s novel of the same name, the movie tells the story of Lara Jean Song Covey, who has been writing love letters to the boys she’s had crushes on over the years as a way to get her emotions and feelings out of her system. All 5 of the letters stayed in a hat box, given to her by her deceased mother years earlier, on the top shelf of her closet until one day they are mysteriously mailed to all the guys. One of the letters goes to Lara Jean’s first kiss, the dreamy Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo). Another goes to her current crush – next-door neighbor and sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh Sanderson (Israel Broussard). To throw Josh off before he can confront her about the letter, Lara Jean kisses Peter, who is standing nearby after confronting her about his own letter. Peter and Lara Jean agree to fake-date in order to keep Josh and Peter’s ex, Genevieve, off their backs. They even go so far as to write out a “contract” to ensure they adhere to certain guidelines as a way to help prevent things from going too far.
There were a lot of different aspects of the film that I found myself drawn to, but none more so than the two main characters and the actors that played them.
Lana Condor shines as protagonist Lara Jean. While fans may recognize her from X-Men: Apocalypse, this is sure to be Condor’s breakout role. Lara Jean, as a character, is a winning combination of quirky, innocent, hopeless romantic teenager who still has a lot to learn from the world. She might be just 16-years-old, but there were many moments throughout the film where I saw myself in her, not just when I was her age, but even now as my current 23-year-old self. Lara Jean embodies the idea that you live your best life when you are honest with yourself about who you are and what you want. Condor flawlessly depicts this in her acting, scene after scene.
And don’t even get me started on Noah Centineo as the dreamboat male lead, Peter. Peter might be a dreamboat, but he isn’t without his flaws. Sometimes he says the wrong thing, acts like a jerk, and can’t fully escape the grasp of his ex-girlfriend. But one of the things I loved most about Peter is that everything he did, he did fully and with an open heart. He fully commits to the idea of a fake relationship, and to her. The casting of Centineo was beyond perfect. I talked all about my love for him as I dubbed him this week’s Man Crush Monday, so I won’t go on about him here. But I will say I am for him to get crowned as the next “King of Romance Movies.” Seriously, who do I need to talk to in Hollywood to make this happen?
Condor and Centineo have incredible chemistry together. Not only do they make a handsome couple, they really capture the quirky playfulness and the organic innocence of the Lara Jean/Peter relationship that fans of the book originally grabbed on to. The infamous hot tub scene made me swoon every time I watched it.
My other favorite part of the film, hands down, was Kitty (Anna Cathcart), Lara Jean’s youngest sister. She’s a little ball of sass and never failed to voice her opinion, even when it’s not wanted. Without a doubt, her one-liners stole the show. In fact, one of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Peter drives Lara Jean and Kitty to school for the first time. I found the way she interacts with Peter to be sweet and realistic of the way a significant other interacts with younger siblings. Anna Cathcart brings her A-game to every scene and delivers a memorable, and extremely lovable, character.
If I have any complaints about the movie, it’s in comparing it to the book. As previously mentioned, this is an adaption of Jenny Han’s novel. The movie is not a carbon copy of the book, as it leaves out a few minor storylines, tones down Josh’s role in the storyline and even combines the ending of the first book with the beginning of the second book to some extent. That being said, the essence of Han’s novel is still there; the characters, the relationships and the situations that you loved reading about are all present. I personally was able to leave my feelings about the book to the side and still really enjoy what I was watching on screen.
At the end of the day, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is simply wonderful. If you love love, I highly recommend you check this film out. It premieres on Netflix today!