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Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Anna Woodward, Staff Writer

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2018 has been the year of rom-coms for Netflix. Whether it was The Kissing Booth or Set it Up, the streaming service’s latest films have been hits with teenage viewers across the globe.

Netflix’s newest rom-com, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, is a movie adaptation of the Jenny Han book of the same name. It tells the story of Lara Jean Covey, a typical junior in high school. Like many teenagers, Covey has her fair share of crushes, each of whom she writes an unmailed letter to. When her letters are mailed suddenly, Covey has to deal with lots of awkward chaos, and even a fake relationship with one of the recipients of the letters, Peter Kavinsky.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before finds a way to portray what it’s like to be a typical American teenager in a comedic yet realistic light. We see Covey having fun with her friends and sisters and binge-watching The Golden Girls, as well as dealing with the loss of her mother and judgemental ex-best friends.

The film’s actors do a great job of portraying their characters realistically and thoroughly. Lana Condor, who plays Covey, makes sure to incorporate her Asian-American heritage into her portrayal of her character, who is Korean-American. Even in simple scenes like meals, Condor shows us what life is like for the average teenager from a perspective that is not always shown in teen films. Noah Centineo, who plays Kavinsky, nails his role as the sweet jock (a stereotype that is not usually shown with as much complexity as Centineo’s character). Even Anna Cathcart, who plays Kitty Covey, portrays her character as annoying in some scenes, like any sibling would be, in addition to sweet and kind-hearted.

As mentioned before, the film also acknowledges the impact of missing parents on families. With Covey’s mother dying, and Kavinsky’s father walking out, we see yet another realistic aspect of life for many teenagers. Because of this shared hardship, the two are able to connect on a deeper, more meaningful level. This normalizes in a mainstream film how the ugly truth doesn’t always have to be bad.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before also includes many side characters that are equally relatable, such as Covey’s friends Lucas and Chris (Trezzo Mahoro, Madeleine Arthur), sister Margot (Janel Parrish), and boy-next-door Josh (Israel Broussard). Not only is there a variety of characters, but each is relatable and important to the story in their own way.

The movie has many lovable moments. My favorites are when Kavinsky and Covey have a meaningful conversation at the local diner after a party and become closer, as well as when they use each other as pillows on the bus ride home from a ski trip. Another heartfelt moment takes place when Kavinsky reveals that he drove across town to get Covey her favorite Korean yogurt smoothie. With moments like these, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before puts a modern twist on the usual teen movie clichés.

Yet, it still has all the typical teen movie clichés: there’s a mean girl, the boy gets the girl (after much conflict and effort), and in the end, the main character’s life is changed forever. For lovers of teen films like me, the film bridges the gap between old and new rom-coms, making the film even more enjoyable.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before stays relevant by showing how the influence of social media and techonology can affect people’s images, self-esteem, and relationships, as well as how it plays into the whole “growing up and figuring out the world” trope popular in movies. It is a 21st century film, and stands out when compared to other teen movies.

Basically, if you love teen movies, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is for you. There are moments that will make you laugh, smile, and even tear up. The movie is easy to relate to, get lost in, and simply enjoy; I definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a new film to watch.

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Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before