Directed by #SusanJohnson
Written by #SofiaAlvarez
Hidden away in a corner of Lara Jean Covey’s room is a box of love-letters that she has written but never sent to every boy she has ever liked over the years, instead preferring to settle for the daydreams and fantasies buried in her numerous romance novels. Not to mention these letters include one to her current crush Josh (Israel Broussard), who just so happens to be the literal boy-next-door and her older sisters’ ex-boyfriend. Bit awkward.
Until one fateful day, those letters get out to the boys in question. Expecting horrendous humiliation and embarrassment, Lara Jean (Condor) is surprised to find that instead of ridicule, one of the other recipients of a letter and former crush Peter (Noah Centineo) comes to her with a proposition; that they pretend to be a couple in order to get the attention of their actual intended partners. As you might imagine, things get a bit complicated from there.
Based on the New York Times Best Seller by Jenny Han, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before tries to do something different with the YA rom-com genre and actually manages to create something that is unashamedly sweet, funny and quite enjoyable. The film is filled with the spirit of many rom-coms that came before it, with several outright nods to the classics such as John Hughes’ Say Anything, while also echoing similar beats from other high-school movies such as Mean Girls, 10 Things I hate About You and the like.
At times it might seem be going down some well-travelled roads, but it helps give the film a level of comfort and familiarity that can only make you smile, and it does well to steer clear of the more obvious tropes you might expect from this genre, while presenting some fresh ideas and a more believable and grounded teen rom-com for which director Susan Johnson deserves a fair deal of credit.
But of course, any film that hinges on romance is only as good as the two leads you are meant to be rooting for. And this is where To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before really hits the nail on the head. Lara Condor is great to watch as emotional bag-of-nerves Lara Jean, trying to navigate her way through these uncharted waters, which is then perfectly balanced by the charming Centineo as Peter, sidestepping all the obvious pitfalls and stereotypes that his character would typically be stuffed with. On top of that they are rounded-off with a refreshingly diverse cast of actors whose characters each bring a little something of their own to the proceedings.
It’s easy to see why two sequels have already been green-lit, with the second already wrapped. Sure it might be predictable (it is a rom-com after all) and the premise while different might be a bit out there, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before will become a firm favourite for fans of the genre and most likely quite a few who aren’t.