“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is the kind of film to watch and rewatch in pajamas with close friends and a pizza. The movie is perfectly predictable and heartwarming, qualities that separate it from other dramas, as it is pure, positive.
The Netflix original film was released Aug. 17 and is based off the popular novel by Jenny Han. Actress Lana Condor plays Lara Jean Song Covey, a witty but shy high schooler. Covey’s most secret possessions are her five letters that are all written to her most intense crushes. The letters were always meant to remain secret, until they are mysteriously sent. One of the boys who received a letter, Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo), proposes a plan to Covey that they endure a fake relationship to make his ex-girlfriend jealous. Covey never knew she could fall for Kavinsky again, until she does, which puts her in a complicated situation.
The film is instantly captivating because of the viewer’s emotional connection to Covey as she navigates her way through the complexities of high school life. In a way, this is what makes the film relatable to teenagers—many of whom have dealt with complicated relationships. The audience can empathize with Covey, who, in the process of adolescence, has fostered romantic feelings for a couple of boys, but has never received love in return. With spot-on references to relevant social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, the filmmakers were successful in relating the story and its characters to its teenage audience.
However relatable the high school atmosphere, the film sets unreasonable expectations for a romantic partner. Kavinsky’s scheme for a fake relationship would not be very probable in real life, nor would the duration of the relationship. Most people would not live a lie to cover up romantic feelings, and in theory, that sounds exhausting. Besides, teenage boys don’t show their affection towards their girlfriends by putting their hand in their partner’s back pocket, an action used in the movie inspired by the 1980’s film “Sixteen Candles.” These sweet and tender gestures often referenced in the film may be fun for fans to gush over, but are unfortunately not a part of modern teenage culture.. However, the creativity of the plot can be appreciated as the basic idea of the sent love letters is an original and refreshing take on a romantic comedy.
On a more technical level, the acting cannot be considered high quality. Although the actors playing Covey and Kavinsky capture the quirks of their character’s personality, the supporting roles are dull and cringeworthy. The worst performances come from Anna Cathcart, who plays Covey’s little sister Kitty, and Janel Parrish, who plays the older sister Margot. Both actors over exaggerate their character’s dialogue, diminishing the quality of the film. Still, Condor and Centineo shine, distracting the viewer from the other unfortunate acting.
Innocent and uplifting, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is a true feel-good movie. It emphasizes pure kindness, touching the hearts of even those who least expect it. With characters that are instantly lovable, the film is certain to become a Netflix classic.