Movie #54 2021: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

As of last month, this movie is now part of a trilogy. Movies don’t usually get sequels unless they’re super popular, right? To make sure I was keeping up with the Kardashians kids, I thought I should probably give them a try.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is based on a book of the same name by author Jenny Han. The story focuses on a Korean-American girl named Lara Jean, who has for years written letters to all of the boys she’s secretly loved since fifth grade. To avoid being deeply embarrassed, LJ never sent any of them to the addressees stated on the envelopes. (Fun fact: Han herself is Korean-American and from Virginia – the same as the book version of Lara Jean. For the movie however, the setting was changed to Oregon, probably due to it being partly filmed in Portland.) Lara’s younger sister Kitty notices how lonely she is when the eldest sibling moves away to Scotland for college, and takes it upon herself to send out all of the letters in LJ’s secret stash.

I’ll admit, as a 28-year old gay woman, I’m probably not the target audience here. But you know what? This is a pretty cute teen flick, and who says you can’t enjoy something even if you’re not the intended ‘type’ of viewer?

Lana Condor does a great job of introducing us to this world, making Lara Jean goofy and likeable instantly. There’s no doubt that she has a bright future ahead of her in the acting industry, and indeed has already been seen in X-Men: Apocalypse. Imagine your debut being a role in a multi-billion dollar franchise. Proof that there’s more to come from her, that’s for sure. The breakout star for me though? Anna Cathcart as the little sister. What an absolute joker; her performance as the wise-beyond-her-years feminist kid is very convincing and endearing, and she stands out amongst a bunch of very average performances from other featured actors.

Using a fake relationship as a plot device has been done so many times before in coming of age movies like this one, but there were stand out scenes that kept To All The Boys from being just another teen movie. The dialogue itself isn’t exactly realistic at all times, but certain sequences stand out, such as the squabble over movies – the main characters’ favourites being Sixteen Candles and Fight Club tells you everything you need to know about them. 

Shout out to Confidence Man for making an appearance on this soundtrack. To be quite honest, all of the popular music choices are unexpectedly great, but especially that track. Perhaps although I am not the intended audience here, the music is one of the things that kept me invested and once again proves that there’s still something for everyone in most movies.

Honestly, very little happens, it’s kinda slow and there are some super cliché moments within it… but the cinematography was pretty great and the characters were interesting.

Definitely a solid YA movie for what it is. Should it continue? Perhaps not, but we all know what a cash cow teen movies like this are for Hollywood execs. We’ll see, I guess…

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is available to stream on Netflix in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

Costume & Set Design: 
Overall Rating: ½

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