Cinematography reminicent of the 80s combined with elements of the modern romantic comedy — that is what awaits you when you watch the newly published Netflix adaptation of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. The film is based on the original book by Jenny Han and the main character is played by an Asian woman, Lana Condor. Interestingly, the film is somewhat universally appealing, and there’s a few reasons for that.
The plot is nothing short of a homage to all the classics. Condor’s character, Lara Jean Covey, is your typical socially awkward and reserved High School student. She lives with her two sisters and her father. Her mother sadly passed away when she was little. This is something that Lara Jean carries with her, and as we later find out, is the main reason for her tendency to isolate herself. This quiet girl is also the one that feels the most intense emotions. She is full of love and doesn’t know how to handle her feelings towards her crushes, so she writes letters. This however backfires when those letters get sent out, forcing her to confront her fears and thus interact with new people. One of those people is none other than Peter Kowinzky, played by actor Noah Centineo, who continues to play an important role in the film.
Her relationship with her family is almost highlighted as much as the main plot. It is a clever way to incorporate childhood trauma and bring healthy communication into our lives. The sister dynamic also plays a huge role in this film and it is a delicate subplot that gets executed seemlessly. The links between her past experiences and her present actions is reflected upon by the characters in a way that isn’t too on the nose and yet gives us that giddy excitement we crave when watching a Romantic Comedy. It also uses humour to lighten the mood, and does it tastefully. The actors aren’t awfully out of touch with the situations displayed, fit the descriptions and convey the maturity of High School students. It is somewhat dramatic in it’s execution, with the occasional girl fights and relationship trouble known to this genre of film. But those scenes are redeemed by the way the situations are dealth with. That is also why I think the script in “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” is so relatable and realistic. It doesn’t use unnecessary and advanced language just for the sake of it, but rather adapts it to the core demographic and vibe of the film.
The typical RomCom is, to put it lighty, very bland. With overplayed plots and the seemingly same four blonde white women as the lead role and the charming Ryan Gosling as the love interest, it isn’t hard to see why this genre is the laughing stock of every joke. Unrealistic characters and almost perfect love stories plague most of these movies, which doesn’t go unnoticed by this cynical and jaded generation. Idealistic depictions of reality might be fun, but it isn’t what we’re after longterm. Emotionally impacting movies are the ones that stay with us, and effectively bring us the most joy.
This movie showed the world that this genre can indeed be saved. The diverse, authentic cast and the beautiful cinematic shots showcasing a realistic coming of age story that deals with problems we all face is exactly the direction Hollywood should be taking from now on. We are currently experiencing the shift of the film industry as we speak and, whilst it may have a long way to go, we are finally getting somewhere. It can only be hoped that this is not a one time occurance and that we’ll be getting many more wonderful movies like this in the time to come. The reception so far has been incredible, and rightly so. Let’s hope for a better time for Actors of color to get the recognition they deseve, and for us, young and old, to finally get the representation we’ve been wanting for so long.