By: Hallie Keiper
According to about seven Buzzfeed quizzes I’ve taken, Peter Kavinsky is destined to be my boyfriend, and I have to say, I am 100 percent okay with that.
Let’s get one thing straight — Netflix’s newly released rom-com To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, based on the book series by Jenny Han, is adorable. I’m thinking that many people like me saw the movie cover, read the description and thought to themselves, I’ll bet this movie is about as cliché as they come, I can’t believe they keep remaking these same basic concepts, but oh well, guess I have to watch it! Though my original thought was that I was getting into another overdone storyline (girl and guy fake relationship, fake relationship turns real, real relationship has a misunderstood blip so girl and guy fight, guy and girl get back together), as I watched, I found more depth than that. Yes, it did follow that same basic premise, but it felt even more enjoyable and more raw than most cliché rom-coms I watch cuddled up with blankets and popcorn.
Protagonist Lara Jean’s life is going just fine. She’s quiet and shies away from the spotlight, but she is happy enough. Her life situation changes drastically the day someone mails out Lara Jean’s private love letters, which were never supposed to be sent, to Lara Jean’s crushes. Lara Jean is petrified, for obvious reasons, but specifically because her older sister’s ex-boyfriend Josh received one of the five letters. To avoid Josh and his questions, Lara Jean reluctantly agrees to fake-date Peter Kavinsky, a popular jock who wants in on the scheme to win back his ex-girlfriend. The two immediately have chemistry and they are both so darn beautiful inside and out, making it simple to fall in love with their journey.
The film creates depth through numerous aspects, though it most notably delivers through the organic conversations between Lara Jean and Peter. During their pseudo-relationship, the duo frequently engages in remarkably real, raw conversation, complete with semi-awkward pauses and difficult topics such as grief and loss.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’s refreshing take on relationships is just that: refreshing. At one point, when Lara Jean and Peter are talking, Peter downplays the importance of his dad abandoning his family, to which Lara Jean responds, “Well, we don’t have to talk about it, but it’s not whatever.” This sentence caught me off guard and I instantly knew that this was a film I would love. What kind of young adult romance movie has dialogue that conveys such understanding and empathy, yet still doesn’t minimize the importance of having those conversations? This one, my friends. This one.
Despite the fact that I will praise this movie until my dying day, I am mindful enough to know that, like every movie, it has its faults. Like previously mentioned, the obvious, predictable plot line has to deduct a point or two from its overall rating for lack of true originality. There are also many stereotypical characters that multiply the feeling of predictability and unoriginality: the mean ex-girlfriend with few redeeming qualities, a quirky best friend with short, comical quips but lack of overall character development or importance to the plot and a charming jock (though this one has some personality, finally).
As with many movies, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before created plenty of media hype, seen by many who had not yet watched the film. Though this did not occur for me, as I watched it the night after it was released, a few of my friends have said they decently enjoyed the movie but felt the buildup they had seen previously made them disappointed in the actual product.
Sure, the film was predictable, with all the basic elements that make up the well-loved rom-com, but it doesn’t take away from the strength and value of the work as a whole. Though the main leads and their beautiful faces did not hurt my opinion on this movie, I couldn’t help but feel as if I were watching a John Hughes movie set in the present day.
With a POC lead, realistic details in the character’s lives and dialogue varying from witty to compassionately moving contributing to the film’s substance, I believe this movie is up there with my favorite rom-coms. A movie with beauty and flaws and truths throughout, it earns a place on my Netflix list forever, so I can watch it over and over again, praying for my own Peter Kavinsky to come along.