To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a wonderful end of summer treat: great acting, well-paced plot, and all the swoony, teen-y feels. This is the quality, RomCom content we deserve!
When I saw the first trailer for To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before earlier this summer, I just knew that I needed this film in my life, so much so, that I emailed NETFLIX publicity and practically begged them for a screener. And now that I’ve seen this film eight times (EIGHT!!!!!!!!), my initial feelings have only grown.
NETFLIX has been doing the Lord’s work lately by bringing us glorious romantic comedy, and TATBILB is, through and through, swoony and hilarious and heartwarming. Instantly, the films transports me back to my 16/17-year old self, the optimism and feels, coupled with the awkwardness and insecurity of trying to navigate my teenhood.
Now, I haven’t read Jenny Han’s best-seller, so I can’t really talk about the film as an adaptation. (I promise, it’s at top of my TBR list. And FYI: our friends at Fangirlish have an awesome interview with Jenny Han where she reflects on the process of working with the creative team to adapt her book for NETFLIX.)
What I can say is that To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a wonderful end of summer treat: great acting, well-paced plot, and all the swoony, teen-y feels. This is the quality, RomCom content we deserve.
Lara Jean Song Covey, the middle daughter in an interracial, Korean-American family, is about to begin her junior year of high school. She has just said goodbye to her older sister, Margot, who’s off to college in Scotland. In the absence of their mother (who dies when the Lara Jean, Margot, and their baby sister Kitty are quite young), Margot becomes a maternal figure in the family. Though, their father, Dr. Dan Covey, tries to keep the memory of their mother alive for the girls by cooking Korean food, etc., he sometimes botches things. Margot has been there to clean up the messes and smooth things over.
Margot does something similar in Lara Jean’s life at school. Lara Jean has been on the sidelines of the social scene and mostly relying on her best friend Christine, Margot, and Margot’s boyfriend Josh. When Margot leaves (and breaks up with Josh beforehand), Lara Jean loses 2/3 of her circle. This doesn’t bother Lara Jean too much… she’ll eat lunch in the library (as long as they don’t kick her out for eating noisy foods) and on the weekends, she’ll watch Golden Girls reruns with Kitty. Lara Jean seems satisfied; however, someone in her life wants to shake things up.
Over the last several years, Lara Jean has written love letters to five guys she’s had crushes on. Lara Jean doesn’t mail them, but it helps her to articulate her feelings and make sense of them. Lara Jean hides the letters in a teal gift-box (a keepsake from her mother). But one day, Lara Jean gets a rude awakening when all five letters are missing. Someone has mailed them out!!!
Right away, Lara Jean has to confront three of the guys, Peter Kavinsky (jock and Mr. Popular), Lucas Krapf (who shows Lara Jean a fun time at the 9th grade Homecoming dance), and Josh Sanderson. YES, the Josh who is now Sister Margot’s ex-boyfriend. LAWD!
In order to avoid the major awkward of dealing with Josh, Lara Jean agrees to begin a fake relationship with Peter Kavinsky (who’s trying to make his ex-girlfriend jealous). DRA.MA. Unexpectedly, hanging out with Peter does help Lara Jean to open up and enjoy high school. But what happens when Lara Jean starts to develop real feelings for her fake boyfriend?
1. Lara Jean is all of us!
Lana Condor dazzles us as Lara Jean! She’s the perfect RomCom leading lady. Several times, Lara Jean shares her love of John Hughes films, and she, herself, could totally be a John Hughes heroine: smart, relatable, a little awkward, with perfect comedic timing, and all-around delightful.
I see so much of myself in Lara Jean, with her passion for bodice-ripper, romance novels, her shyness, and her love of her family. Lara Jean will be the first to tell you that she’s addicted to romance and drama… but aren’t we all, like a little bit?
And though I very much identify with Lara Jean, I recognize that a young, Asian-American woman as a romantic lead in a film like this is something special, something to celebrate, and something to replicate. Because #RepresentationMatters!
2. Sisters before misters!
Yes, TATBILB is a romance, but, for me, the relationship between the three Covey sisters is the highlight of the film–Margot, the responsible one; Lara Jean, the shy, melodramatic one; and Kitty, the popular one and baby-feminist.
A significant part of the storyline follows the evolution of the way the sisters engage with one another as they’re growing up. Lara Jean is keeping a major secret from her sisters and it does create conflict between them. However, when Lara Jean finds herself in a difficult and embarrassing situation towards the end of the movie, it’s Margot and Kitty who Lara Jean turns to.
By the end, I was cheering “sisters before misters!!!” at the screen and so ready to call my own sisters, too.
3. John Corbett is the DILF we deserve!
To all my fellow Sex and the City fans, I have to confess that Aidan has always been my favorite of Carrie’s guys. So, now to see John Corbett as a sweet, single-daddy to his girls, is the literal BEST. Dan Covey was so, super in love with his wife and has worked hard to channel all of that love into raising his three daughters. This includes hella awkward conversations about sexual health, all the way to reminding Lara Jean that she deserves to be young and carefree.
4. Lara Jean’s boys…SWOON!
I didn’t expect to like Peter Kavinsky as much as I did, but he was charming and kind and a great guy for Lara Jean. Peter challenges Lara Jean to have fun and helps her step out of her shell to embrace the experiences of high school and be part of the group.
One of my favorite scenes takes place between Lara Jean and Peter after dinner with Peter’s family. They bond over losing a parent, and Lara Jean reflects on how losing her mother has shaped her fear of love and relationships. In the course of the film, this realization jars Lara Jean into taking some risks. But as they say: no risk, no reward! (Especially if that risk includes making out in a hot tub! 😉 )
While I adore Peter, Lucas is my homeboy. I would take him and his cravat-wearing, cutie-patootie self anywhere. Lucas is a really good friend to Lara Jean and I love how he encourages her.
Then there’s Josh *sigh* Lara Jean’s relationship with Josh is complex, especially because of Margot. Throughout the movie, Josh really struggles with losing his connection to the Covey sisters. While I don’t necessarily want Lara Jean and Josh to have a romantic relationship, I want them to be good friends. And P.S. I think Josh and Margot should get back together.
5. Awesome music is AWESOME!
I mentioned that To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before hooked me before the end of the trailer, and the amazing soundtrack 100% contributed to the RomCom goodness. I hadn’t yet heard Lauv’s “I Like Me Better”, and after hearing it in the trailer and movie, I downloaded the song and played it on repeat for dayssss. Then I watched the music video on repeat for dayssss and cried at how lovely and romantic it was. Then I texted Katie, my BFF Patrice, and my sister Sey to share it with them, too. *SWOONY SIGH*
Friends, this film is MUSTSEE, so make sure to take time this weekend to unwind with To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and drown in teen-y, RomCom feels. You won’t regret it! And Team NETFLIX, you might as well just greenlight the sequels now. Js.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before had their premiere/special screening in Los Angeles on August 16, 2018 at the Arc Light Culver City. Check out images from the screening below!