There has never been a better time to consume some fantastically cheesy romance narratives considering the overwhelming amount of tongue-in-cheek comedies flooding cinemas and Netflix. The streaming service’s “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” provides seekers of this exact genre the perfect escape into the melodramatics of high school flings, lies and the revelation of unsent love letters.
Following the recent trend of Hollywood adaptations, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is based on the novel of the same name by extraordinary author Jenny Han. A storyline tragically trapped in its own web of a lackluster premise, viewers will slowly fall in love with the film’s main character and the many characters that fill her eccentric world.
Aptly named, the film follows Lara Jean Covey, a high school junior on the very cusp of love and an actual romance story of her own. In love with her sister’s ex-boyfriend and childhood crush, Lara Jean’s hopes for a typical school year are dashed when the love letters she’s kept hidden for years get out to each of her crushes. To prevent any more collateral damage, Lara Jean begins fake-dating Peter Kavinsky, the school’s top jock. As one may guess, chaos tends to pursue in the sight of such admittedly complex antics.
The beauty behind this film, just like the novel, shines in its absolute inability to tackle any serious issues beyond the classic “mix-up of unrequited love” trope. Han does a beautiful job at putting a twist on this trope just enough that viewers remain entranced by the film’s story if only to find out how Lara Jean resolves this incredibly down-to-earth issue.
Much like the cheesy romance media that has come before it, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” doesn’t attempt to make out-of-this-world metaphors or allegorical statements about political statements, race or any other hot-button issue. Cutting out any unnecessary issues with Lara Jean and her sisters being half Asian, this film knows exactly what it sets out to do: tell a story about a girl finding love in the midst of an unlikely situation.
While there are several shortcomings that could potentially tank the film, such as its myriad of flat characters and insignificant story arcs, it only improves on the novel’s original success by cutting utterly dull plot points and shortening the novel’s impossibly lengthy opening scenes.
A perfect Valentine’s film for years to come, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is an immediate draw for romance-chasers. An adaptation of the novel’s sequel, “P.S. I Still Love You” has already been confirmed as a Netflix original, and there’s no doubt that the third book in the series, “Always and Forever, Lara Jean” will be coming sometime in the near future.
Though “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” may not be an instant classic, it definitely resides in the upper echelon of young adult book adaptation films. It’s a light, easy watch packed with plenty of the same melodrama and crying one would expect from a story of first love.
photo courtesy The Paw Print