After reading the book To All the Boys I’ve Loved and having enjoyed it, I was excited to watch the film adaptation recently released exclusively on Netflix. The film tells the story of a teenage girl named Lara Jean who writes letters to all the boys she’s ever had a crush on and stores them away in a hat box. One day those letters go missing and end up in the hands of the boys she wrote them to. It is a cliché story but the character of Lara Jean is relatable and her family life is comical. I loved reading about the family’s culture and traditions, Lara Jean’s mother is Korean and her father is a white American while herself and her siblings were raised in America.
The film, however, left me disappointed. The film focused too much on the way that the characters looked rather than their personalities. Lara Jean was very bland and unrelatable, never saying too much and seemingly had no hobbies whereas in the book she was very interested in cooking.
Similarly, the film’s version of Peter was solely based on his looks rather than his in-depth family life or his love for lacrosse as the book portrayed.
On a bright note, the cinematography was aesthetically pleasing and the shots differed from typical basic shots in the usual cliché teenage dramas. The music, however, was forgettable, unlike the classic 90s soundtracks of high school dramas that are all so loved.
The thing that disappointed me most was the timeline. One minute, Lara Jean is in love with Josh, and then almost the next week, she’s in love with Peter. The good dialogue from the book was cut to make space for action shots of the characters ‘looking good’. There was no chemistry between Lara and Josh in the film, their relationship lacked the banter that it has in the book. Furthermore, the other supporting characters were unbelievable and simply archetypes of characters in similar high school drama films.
Although I would not recommend To All the Boys I’ve Loved and did not think it was a good adaptation of the book, it’s worth watching if only to laugh at the terrible acting. At least it serves as a good reminder of how good the book was.