Romantic comedies often seem to be pouring out of Hollywood in repetitive and predictable ways. It is hard to find new movies that manage to spice up the rom-com recipe. In an attempt to captivate the rom-com audience, Netflix released a new original movie on Aug. 17 titled “To All the Boys I Loved Before”. The film follows Lara Jean Covey, played by Lana Condor, who is a young girl entering her junior year of high school as her older sister leaves to start her college education abroad. Lara Jean’s sister breaks up with her boyfriend of two years, and this breakup reminds Lara Jean that she has been in love with her sister’s boyfriend for the duration of their relationship. Her problems begin when Lara Jean’s younger sister mails out the love letters Lara Jean had privately written as a way to cope with her feelings. Drama and high school hijinks ensue, including fake dating, self reflection and cafeteria throw downs.
The theme of movie– that love is scary and unpredictable, but it is always worth taking the plunge–was apparent from the start of the film and was punctuated at the end with a dramatic kiss from the two teens. While this topic is often the center of romantic comedies, it also focuses on more than just romantic love. Lara Jean and her sisters are at the center stage as they try to navigate their relationships with each other, warped in recent years from the death of their mother. Their father works hard to ensure the sisters’ connection with their mother and their Korean heritage is never forgotten. Finally, the revolving friendships between Lara Jean, her middle school friends, and her current friends are always examined, emphasizing that even if you don’t know that someone is watching, you are still being examined by the outside world.
The cast is filled with many new actors, unknown by any big titles or for involvement with franchises.The film features a fun soundtrack that includes a mix ranging from 80s hits to modern-day alternative music, which adds a lot to each scene. The movie is directed by Susan Johnson, and while it is only the second feature-length film that she has completed in her career, it displays the skill and talent she has in her field. There very many unknown variables connected with this movie’s creation, which allowed for the actors and film crew to make the movie their own.
This film was based on a 2014 novel by Jenny Han and pays a lot of respect to the source material. While “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is the first book out of a trilogy, it did a good job at tying the movie up, but still left the possibility of another movie. Fans of the book series may notice some differences. The book leaves the question of how Lara Jean’s letters got out a mystery for nearly the whole book, while the movie lets you know right away. However, details such as Lara Jean’s love for vintage clothes, her fear of driving, and the details of her and her best friend’s relationship remained adorable snippets in the movie.
While “To All the Boys I Loved Before” did not get a theatrical release, it definitely deserves attention. It has earned its place in the romantic comedy genre, perfect for a Valentine’s day marathon, a girls’ night and on the list of possibilities for a relaxing Friday night with a loved one.