The Guilfordian

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“To All the Boys I Loved Before” falls short of novel

Warning: SPOILERS!

“To All The Boys I Loved Before,” released on August 17, has taken the teenage audience by storm as the initially fake relationship between Lara Jean, played by Lana Condor, and Peter, played by Noah Centineo, becomes the fantasy love most people cheesily seek throughout their lives. Casting directors Tiffany Mak and Tamara-Lee Notcutt created a cast with a well-known history throughout the cinematic industry. However, Candor, 21, and Centineo, 22, are both on the higher end of the age scale for Netflix, who pride themselves on age-appropriate casting. Candor starred in the latest X-Men movie, while Centineo was featured in the Disney Channel show “Austin & Ally in 2014.” Also, if you recognized Lara Jean’s sister Margot, actress Janel Parrish played Mona Vanderwaal through all seven seasons of the hit drama television show “Pretty Little Liars.” Inappropriate age casting and a drastic change from the book plot to the cinematic stage created a movie tacky and unenjoyable to watch, only being saved by impeccable acting.

Lara Jean’s character was refreshing as Candor fabulously portrayed a Korean-American girl struggling through sophomore year as an outcast not only in school, bu also within her home life. She lives with her younger sister, Kitty, and older sister, Margot, who are both extremely popular within their respective grades, while she hangs out with her best and only friend Chris.  Margot recently went off to college leaving her ex-boyfriend, Lara Jean’s childhood best friend Josh, heartbroken. Secretly, Lara Jean has written love letters to all her loves throughout her life, including Josh. After a talk with her younger sister Kitty, the messages mysteriously reach all the boys. Hiding these letters for almost ten years and rereading them constantly was obsessive and I couldn’t believe the letters hadn’t gotten out sooner.  Peter Kavinsky, a boy she kissed randomly in seventh grade during spin the bottle is the first to receive his letter and confronts Lara Jean. Peter was dumped by his girlfriend Gen for a college student and decides to use the message as leverage to get Lara Jean to fake date him. Following along the general narrative of high school romance movies, Josh finally finds his hidden feelings for Lara Jean inside himself and tries to win her away from Peter. Hiding the relationship from Margot and dealing with a love square between Gen, Peter, Josh and herself, Lara Jean learns how to navigate life as the star lacrosse player’s girlfriend.

Peter and Lara Jean find out that their feelings are genuine after the annual school ski trip where they kiss. Tensions arise after Gen tells Lara Jean that Peter was in her room the night of the kiss. Once home, Peter and Josh get into a fight outside of Lara Jean’s home when Margot made a surprise visit, finding out that Lara Jean once was in love with Josh, who now reciprocates those feelings. Margot stereotypically gets angry, then proceeds to forgive Lara Jean while she goes to Peter after his lacrosse practice and confesses her feelings. Everyone finally becomes happy with how their lives turned out, effectively stifling any real character development with the girl finally getting the boy she didn’t know she wanted.

Overall, this movie follows a severely stereotypical high school romance movie plot with no invigorating twists. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” left me wanting more especially after the plot of the book was drastically changed to fit what the producers thought would invite in more viewers. The movie itself was okay, and the inadequate plot was saved due to great acting. “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” is one of those movies you watch once and think is cute, then find something else to watch. However, the book is a must-read, and I would recommend it highly to anyone who enjoyed this movie and movies like “The Kissing Booth.”

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