To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Title card for To All The Boys I've Loved Before.
68.09% (2)

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before will make you cry, laugh, and reminisce about the first time you found someone you connected with like no one else.


Director(s) Susan Johnson
Screenplay By Sofia Alvarez
Date Released 8/17/2018
Genre(s) Romance, Drama, Coming of Age
Good If You Like YA Novel Adaptations

Teen Love & Drama

Close Sister Relationships

Actors Introduced
Lara Jean Lana Condor
Kitty Anna Cathcart
Margot Janel Parrish
Lucas Trezzo Mahoro
Peter Noah Centineo
Gen Emilija Baranac
Josh Israel Broussard
Dr. Covey John Corbett

Summary

At 16 years old, Lara Jean hasn’t been kissed by a guy she liked or had a boyfriend. Which, for her, is okay for she can live vicariously through the books she reads. Then, if she does like a guy, she pours her heart into a letter and that handles that. But, with her entering junior year and her little sister Kitty, only 11, worrying about her, she decides to send those letters. Which leads to quite a bit of issues.

For one, sent to Josh, Lara Jean’s friend and her older sister Margot’s sort of boyfriend, that is extremely awkward and, honestly, doesn’t fully get resolved. Another letter just gets returned to sender, one that gets sent to Lucas is basically void since he is gay, and the fourth letter – well, that guy shows up at the end of the movie. But, the letter addressed to Peter? Lara Jean doesn’t get to avoid dealing with that one or is given an easy out. He confronts her, in a non-aggressive way, and something comes out of it.

Problem is, what comes out of it is a fake relationship to make his ex, Gen, who is also Lara Jean’s ex-friend, jealous. All while Lara Jean tries to avoid having a real conversation with Josh about her letter. But, as the months go by, the question of whether Lara Jean can deal with this relationship being fake bubbles up. This is alongside Peter wondering if, just because Gen was his first relationship, does that mean he should assume she might be meant to be his last.

This combination leads to insecurities on both sides and quite a bit of drama. But what do you expect when two people fall in love for the very first time?

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Can we talk about the contract? He can’t kiss you but he can feel on your ass in public?
  2. What grade is Josh in and considering how flustered he got over the letter, did he like Lara Jean?
  3. Why did Chris, Lara Jean’s best friend, and Gen’s cousin, dislike Gen so bad? I get part of the reason is she got all she wanted but I feel like the catalyst is missing.
  4. Did Lara Jean and Peter ever hook up their younger siblings together?
  5. If it wasn’t Gen, who did leak the hot tub video? Much less, did Gen do the locker writing?

Collected Quote(s) or .Gifs

The more people that you let into your life the more that can just walk right out.
— Lara Jean

Highlights

The Covey Sister Relationship

The Covey sisters hugging one another.

Despite many YA Novels featuring leads with siblings, I don’t think any, thus far, have presented a more united front, and enviable bond, than we see with the Covey sisters. For whether it is Margot and Lara Jean’s relationship, Lara Jean and Kitty, or Kitty with Margot, each one has a unique, and rather healthy, relationship with one another. And while we do see them fight towards the end of the movie, for the most part, they are all they have of each other and their interactions push that they know that. For without a mom, they all share that responsibility to be some kind of maternal figure in each other’s life.

The Peter x Lara Jean Relationship

The romance genre, whether focusing on Young Adults or not, often goes by checklists and a very simple boy meets girl plot – with a twist. A prime example would be Crazy Rich Asians. However, sometimes films decide to go beyond putting two attractive actors together and having them do cute things to make them look like a couple. That is, before they argue, one leaves the other, and they often reconcile.

With To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, we get something different. It still very much is boy meets girl but with the complication of them entering a fake relationship, one which has clear-cut goals for both, it changes things. Especially taking note Lara Jean has never been in love and Peter, arguably, may have been with Gen, for a long time, but her spell on him was just being his first relationship. So with that, I don’t think either one was really prepared for the emotional experience they got.

For Lara Jean, a fake relationship with Peter sounded like a dry run for something real. A test to see if she could handle publicly being with someone, having to deal with expectations, and deal with her insecurities. Such as the fear that someone could come into her life, become an essential part, and leave. For while her mom has at least been dead 10 or so years, that has an effect on a person – deeply.

It being realized there is something there and this relationship may not be fake.
It’s actually really nice having someone to talk to about this stuff.

Then with Peter, as said, it seems he was with Gen because he had a crush. From there, it might have been that he didn’t want to dump and abandon her like his mom got abandoned. Yet, you notice, all the things Gen wanted Peter to do, he does with Lara Jean. Crafting this weird sort of nod that he essentially became his dad in a way. He left the woman who was heavily invested in him and did all she wanted him to do for another.

But, one of the top things which really set Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship from so many others out there is that we see them have conversations. That, to me, is one of the main things often missing in modern romances. There is so much focus on the actors doing cute things, kissing, having sex, and meeting families, that the foundation gets ignored. Rather than see them build a solid foundation which could weather the inevitable storms, we see them put up a tent. A decorative, circus-like, tent. One which gets blown away the first time a serious storm hits them.

With this relationship, however, between talking about the parent that isn’t there, seeing Lara Jean make compromises by going to parties, and Peter compromise and watch movies she wants, we see something real. Well, real considering what age these two are. Making it so we aren’t pushed by characters saying there is something there, while we are lukewarm about it, what we instead get is a full-fledged relationship. The kind which both inspires and makes you envious.

On The Fence

You Can Tell Some, Likely Necessary, Cuts Were Made

Whether made into a series, mini-series, or a standalone movie, it’s rare for a book to be directly translated onto screen. Naturally, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before isn’t different. And while I haven’t read the book, though this movie makes it tempting, there are some things you feel had to be cut down. For whether it is Lucas being gay, Lara Jean’s friendship with Chris, the Josh situation, or her relationship with her dad, you can see a handful of topics which, if this gets greenlit for a sequel (the book is a trilogy) can get some added detail.

Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing)

Peter and Lara Jean laying on the floor.

While To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before isn’t necessarily setting standards and precedents to follow, in an industry obsessed with the young falling in love and their drama, it is nice to have a movie which seems to understand romance. Be it the longing for it, the fear of it, how you can become complacent, as well as how relationships you’ve had, which have nothing to do with that person, can complicate things for the rest of your life.

But, as noted, what makes this film noteworthy, and labeled positive, is because, whether to set up sequels or not, it lays a foundation for Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship like so few films do. Also, it brings us characters who, to varying degrees, I’ll admit, show some kind of complexity which can intrigue you. Making it where you feel the movie is a cliff notes for the book without feeling like it might not do the book justice.

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About Amari Sali 3103 Articles
New Jersey native Amari Sali takes the approach of more so being a media advisor than a critic to sort of fill in the gap left between casual fans of media and those who review productions for a living. Thus being open about bias while still giving enough insight, often with spoilers, to present whether something is worth seeing, buying, renting, streaming, or checking out at all.

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