WARNING, Spoilers coming up!
‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ is a new Netflix film adaptation from the teen romance novel of the same name by Jenny Han, which has taken the world by storm, already developing a growing cult fan base. As I’m one to give into the hype and a sucker for romance, I decided to see what all the fuss was about, and I wasn’t disappointed. I’d argue that a lot of more recent teen romantic comedies miss the mark in some way, I mean, compared to classics like Mean Girls and A Cinderella Story that are pretty tough to beat. ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’, was certainly a nice and unexpected surprise.
Although I have yet to read the book, the adaptation certainly reeled me into the story. The film stars Lana Candor as the sweet and adorably awkward Lara Jean, a 16-year-old cheesy romance addict, who begins a fake relationship with popular jock Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo), after private letters she’d written to him and her other crushes are sent to the subjects. The film is certainly cute and although plays into some stereotypes, seems a lot more complex than your average rom-com.
Noah Centineo as Peter, the handsome and popular male lead, initially seems like a one-dimensional jock, convincing Lara Jean into their fake relationship to make his ex jealous, but he definitely grew on me as a loveable sweetheart. The cute little things they do together like going to school, discussing their drastically different film favourites (Sixteen Candles and Fight Club), and bonding over the absence of mothers in their lives, really makes their relationship feel authentic yet still interesting. Peter’s subtle yearning for Lara Jean and the way he cares for her certainly makes his characters swoon-worthy. Although it’s inevitable, as fake relationship films tend to go, that these two fall in love, their chemistry and the banter-filled bond they develop is great to watch.
The film also triumphs where other teen romances tend to fall short, by having an Asian-American female as lead and a diverse cast; a refreshing change from many of the classic high school romance films. It’s sad how it continues to be rare to see an Asian American female lead in mainstream films, so hats off to the adaptation for staying true to the novel’s protagonist. Candor plays the quirky yet hilarious Lara Jean really well and her awkwardness when it comes to romance and guys is pretty relatable. I mean let’s be honest, a lot of us have probably behaved the same when faced with their crush.
Aside from the pretty stereotypical mean girl Genevieve (played by Emilija Baranac), who lacked a deeper reason for her antics, I really struggle to fault the film. I found it both compelling and clever, a classic romance with a sweet modern feel to it, such as the cute scene where Lara Jean and Peter make their phone backgrounds pictures of them together. The film is definitely everything you’d want from a rom-com, if you need cheering up or fancy a new sugar sweet film, then definitely give ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’, a go. The film is out now on Netflix so get watching!
By Gemma Prince
Image provided by Netflix