To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Streaming on Netflix
Metadata: TV-14 | 2018 | 1h 39m
Genre: Rom-Com, Novel Adaptation PERFECTION!
Why I watched: I am so, so obsessed with Jenny Han's young adult book series about Lara Jean Covey, Korean-American teenager with a penchant for baking and letter writing. There are three books, so when you finish streaming this adorable movie about young love, take yourself to your local independent bookstore or library to snap up To All the Boys I've Loved Before, P.S.: I Still Love You, and Always and Forever, Lara Jean.
You might also like: This is clearly the best weekend ever for book-to-movie adaptations. Crazy Rich Asians hit theaters on Thursday. I saw it. I cried three times. I'm currently setting up Google Flight alerts for trips to Singapore. And like To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Crazy Rich Asians fought a hard fight with Hollywood to cast Asian actors. Take yourself to the multiplex, y'all. This movie is what dreams are made of!
I've spent all weekend texting everyone I know, telling them to watch To All the Boys I've Loved Before. It's adorable. I've watched it twice. (This is after watching the trailer on repeat for the past several weeks leading up to the Netflix release on August 17.) The film follows Lara Jean Covey, a teenage girl who loves her family, scrunchies, romance novels, and John Hughes movies. Despite her love for love, though, she doesn't have much in the way of real-world experience. Lara Jean has had five intense crushes over the course of her short life. Instead of telling the boys how she felt, though, she wrote love letters, sealed them up, and stored them in a box never to see the light of day. Until, of course, they do!
There is so much that is wonderful about this movie, but I think the casting and styling are absolutely perfect. Lana Condor is subtle and put together, exactly like Lara Jean. Her wardrobe is a mix of Korean street style, suburban high schooler, and Alicia Silverstone in Clueless. Noah Centineo, who plays Peter Kavinsky, is currently breaking the internet with his endearing cool guy cuteness. (Thank you, Jenny Han, for this GIF of him dancing on the bleachers like Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You!) And John Corbett as Dr. Covey is caring and relevant, unlike so many teen movie parents.
To All the Boys I've Loved Before doesn't majorly rewrite the tropes of the teenage rom-com. For fans of the genre, you'll recognize a zillion references to John Hughes, Clueless, Dawson's Creek, etc. But this movie's execution is beautiful. Frame for frame, it's staged with whimsy and charm. The soundtrack is contemporary with a thoughtfully vintage feel. (My favorite pick is "Lovers" by Anna of the North, which plays through the infamous ski trip hot tub scene. Swoon!) And, the sister relationships between Lara Jean, Margot (Janel Parrish), and Kitty (Anna Cathcart) are richer than we ever would have gotten in a 90s or 80s version of this story.
And there's an important layer to the production story of To All the Boys I've Loved Before, which is that author Jenny Han had a hard time finding a company who was willing to purchase the film rights to her novel under the condition that they would keep the Covey girls Asian American. As the author explains in a New York Times Op-Ed, this is important not only to the fabric of the story she was trying to tell but for the young girls like Han who lack on screen representation. "What would it have meant for me back then to see a girl who looked like me star in a movie?" Han writes. "Not as the sidekick or romantic interest, but as the lead? Not just once, but again and again? Everything."
So go watch this movie, and then watch it again. Tweet about it. Tell everyone that you know. Because I love everything about every part of this movie, and I know that you will too. (But especially Peter Kavinsky!) And I'm dying for a sequel!
Always and forever, Lara Jean Liz