Photo courtesy of Netflix | Netflix continues its release of feature-length films with its first romantic comedy. Main character Lara Jean Covey explores adolesence and boys.
Netflix has struck again with its newest original movie, To All the Boys I’ve loved before. Based on the novel by Jenny Han, the film follows the story of Lara Jean Covey, a high-schooler with a problematic love life. Lara Jean is a romantic who falls in love at the drop of a hat. Finding it too difficult to express her feelings openly, Lara Jean instead writes secret love letters to the boys she likes. There are five letters total, stored in a teal box in Lara Jean’s closet. When Lara Jean’s younger sister Kitty sends the letters to each respective boy, Lara Jean’s world flips upside-down.
The most rewarding part of the film is Lara Jean herself. The perfect combination of quirky and assertive, Lara Jean captures what it is to be an awkward teenager trying to fake her way through life’s pitfalls. Lara Jean thinks she knows what she wants but hasn’t yet figured out who she is. Watching Lara Jean navigate her life feels more authentic than other high school movies, even if the circumstances of the film are far-fetched. Lara Jean grounds the feature, making everything else feel not only believable, but honest.
While Lara Jean’s character is strong and well-developed, others fall short, particularly Lara Jean’s neighbor Josh. Lara Jean has an intense crush on Josh, despite him dating her older sister Margot. When Josh receives his letter, he spends the movie searching for an explanation from Lara Jean. Meanwhile, Lara Jean spends the film trying to escape Josh’s interrogation. Near the end of the feature, Josh changes from trying to question Lara Jean to giving her advice on her relationships with other guys. This transformation feels unprompted. Josh suddenly loses his actual character and just becomes a part of Lara Jean’s conscience. Josh goes from having a real, individual personality to simply being Lara Jean’s counselor.
Aside from the characters, the music in this film also deserves recognition. The music serves to elevate each scene and is incredibly effective. There are no stand-out songs in particular, but each song combines to make the atmosphere of the film more genuine. Every song embodies the mood of that scene and subtly keys the audience into what emotions are being portrayed.
Overall, To All the Boys I’ve loved before is a worthwhile watch. With a stellar leading lady and a quality soundtrack, other shortcomings can easily be forgiven. The film does a good job at what it sets out to do. If you’re looking for a decent high school rom-com, this might be the movie for you. Keep an eye out for more Lara Jean adventures, as there are already rumors of a sequel.
By: Katie Nichols | Staff Writer