The letters are out.
Based on the young adult romance novel by Jenny Han, Netflix’s “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” is directed by Susan Johnson, who is known for her works on “Unleashed” and “Carrie Pilby.”
The adaptation stars Lana Condor as Lara Jean, Noah Centineo as Peter, Janel Parrish as Margot, Anna Cathcart as Kitty, Israel Broussard as Josh, Emilija Baranac as Genevieve, and John Corbett as Dan.
The story revolves around Lara Jean, a Korean American high school junior who lives with her widowed father Dan and sisters Margot and Kitty. Lara Jean is a hopeless romantic who loves reading romance novels and has written love letters addressed to all five of her past crushes, but has no intention to mail them.
After realizing her letters were mysteriously sent to each of her crushes, including Margot’s boyfriend Josh, Lara Jean makes a deal with Peter, a recipient of her letter, to act as a couple to hide her true feelings towards Josh and for Peter to make his ex-girlfriend Genevieve jealous.
“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” is a lighthearted romance and a step towards Asian representation in film.
The story is sweet and simple as it focuses on two characters who build an endearing chemistry, which is well captured by Condor and Centineo. The fake couple furthers their “relationship” by exchanging cute romantic gestures. Lara Jean and Peter also develop their own special bond as they open up to each other with deep conversations.
The story is light in comedy. The comedic tone is driven by Lara Jean’s embarrassing moments, which relates to awkward high school social situations, and sisterly banter with Kitty.
The cinematography of the film is visually pleasing to the eye and captures the gentle tone of the story with soft color palettes and aesthetic set designs.
Like “Crazy Rich Asians,” “To All The Boys I Loved Before” is praised for embracing Asian representation through the film’s lead. Lara Jean, played by Vietnamese-American actress Lana Condor, is half-Korean and half-Caucasian. The character is seen embracing her Asian heritage, which is rarely seen in media and is a step towards bringing more diversity to American movies and television.
The film also seeks to bring justice to the Asian community by briefly acknowledging a past racist Asian character, Long Duk Dong from the 1980s film “Sixteen Candles,” and addressing the character’s portrayal of racial stereotypes.
However, the film has its flaws.
The story is cliched and predictable. It follows the teen romance trope with a classic fake relationship story between the nice introverted girl and the most popular jock in school.
As a book adaptation, the movie alters details, which makes the story feel rushed, and leaves out minor storylines that help drive the original story along.
Unlike the book, the movie lacks to explore each of Lara Jean’s crushes in depth. The adaptation story features Lara Jean interacting with only three of the five boys, whereas the other two are briefly introduced and are left out of the spotlight.
Despite its minor flaws and changes to the book, “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” offers a fun and sweet romance story that is full of heart.
Although there is no confirmed release date of a sequel, a mid-credits scene indicates a sequel may be in the works.
“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” has a score of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.9/10 on IMDb, the Internet Movie Database.