The cinematic aesthetic derived from teen rom-coms is brought back to life in the Netflix original film “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” Adapted from Jenny Han’s 2014 novel of the same name, the teen romance gives the audience a chance to do what we all wish we could — relive the awkwardness that is high school.
The film centers around Korean-American teen Lara Jean (Lana Condor) as she faces consequences after five of her personal letters are sent out by mistake. Every time Lara Jean falls in love with a boy, she writes them a letter, addresses it and hides the letter away in a hat box for her eyes only.
By the time she’s 16 years old, she has racked up five total love letters, one of which is to her older sister’s boyfriend. When the letters are sent, it’s not hard to guess why her world is flipped upside-down.
This movie is a teen rom-com if I’ve ever seen one. Complete with awkward teen moments, a popular athlete with a cruel girlfriend and a very efficient rumor mill, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” will find a way to satisfy any fan of a good love story. Director Susan Johnson and her producers Brian Robbins, James Lassiter and Will Smith were able to hit all the points needed to make a truly relatable film without giving into unnecessary clichés.
The film exceeded all expectations when it comes to book-to-movie adaptations. The film stayed true to the book’s original narrative, and it didn’t change the essence of the characters. Everything that makes Lara Jean who she is happens to be the exact thing that makes her character so relatable. She’s awkward, new to relationships and doesn’t always want to be the center of attention. She has flown under the radar for so long that when she is pushed into the limelight, she finds herself becoming someone new in meaningful, positive ways.
People change as they grow and develop, which is what audiences can see throughout Lara Jean’s story. She shows you what happens when you start living your life instead of just hiding in the shadows. Putting yourself out there changes a person’s life, and Lara Jean sees this as she navigates through the chaos that she indirectly caused.
The only thing about this film that was less than amazing was the pace. If you’ve read the book and know what’s going to happen, it feels as though you’re just sitting there waiting. Some things show up and others don’t, but the story has the same effect. The characters go through the same problems just leaving out a few subtle moments. While those moments are some of the best and had the potential to develop relationships in the story, they made up for it by paying attention to the details in the scenes they had.
The cinematography along with the set design then brings it all together by creating an aesthetically pleasing atmosphere for you to fall in love with the characters and their unconventional love story.