Movie Review: Netflix’s “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”

This review may contain spoilers.

IMDb: 7.5/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 7.3/10

My review: 10/10

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a Netflix exclusive movie. Photo by Kaylee Adams.

Almost a week before leaving back to college last month, I was browsing through Instagram when I found a ton of posts about a movie titled “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” Curious and intrigued, I read several positive comments about this new film and how people couldn’t stop watching it. That same evening, close to midnight, while my mother was getting ready for bed, I was getting ready to watch the movie myself.

The film begins with Lara Jean Song Covey, a 16-year-old girl who fantasizes about love, but is too afraid to experience it herself. Her life drastically changes when her secret love letters are somehow sent out to each one of the five boys she’s ever liked. One of the recipients of these love letters is Josh Sanderson, her sister Margot’s ex-boyfriend and a former close friend. To prevent Josh from suspecting she may have feelings for him, she frantically kisses Peter Kavinsky, another person who receives one of her love letters. Peter and Lara Jean then form a contract and pretend to date, only to eventually develop true romantic feelings for each other over time.

Though some parts were predictable, this film isn’t cliché. Some of the many positive messages that come across are: (1) Don’t be afraid to love; (2) Don’t be afraid to love again; (3) Face your fears; and (4) Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, because “you never know what could happen.” It was also refreshing to see an Asian-American woman play a lead role in a romantic comedy, a genre that is largely dominated by Caucasian actors and actresses.

Since Netflix released this romantic comedy Aug. 17, most people have been gushing about Noah Centineo, the gorgeous actor who plays Peter Kavinsky. His charismatic acting is what really keeps this film alive and interesting.

I was surprised to learn that there are some people who actually didn’t like, or even hated, this movie. The biggest complaints, according to reviews on IMDb, are that “To All the Boys” is cringy, cliché and unoriginal, with bad acting and an even worse plot. Some people said this film’s target audience is 13-year-old girls, while others claimed it was simply boring and a waste of time to watch.

A common complaint from those who read the book prior to watching the film is that Josh, though a vital character in the teen novel, isn’t really present in the movie. I’ve never read the book, so I can’t say whether or not this film adaptation did the original story any justice. However, I do agree with this criticism. Josh is clearly an important character, yet I didn’t see or learn much about him because of his limited screen time. I wish I could’ve seen more of him throughout the movie.

Many people are already speculating a sequel because of the film’s ending, and because the original book, by Jenny Han, is actually a three-part series. If confirmed, the sequel will focus specifically on John Ambrose, another one of the five love letter recipients.

Overall, this movie was sweet and unique. Not very many movies have succeeded in putting a genuine smile on my face, but this one did just that from start to finish. I was so overwhelmed with raw emotion and excitement while watching this that I constantly had to keep pausing to calm down; it was that good. The characters felt real and authentic, which added to the film’s overall charm.

“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is arguably the best romantic comedy of 2018. Then again, “Sierra Burgess is a Loser,” another Netflix rom-com (also starring Noah Centineo) that was released Sept. 7, may steal the spotlight.

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Photo by Safire R. Sostre, Netflix website

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