The movie adaptation of author Jenny Han’s novel “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is an engaging romantic film that captures the modern teen spirit with a nostalgic feel characteristic of the “invisible-to-popular” storyline.
This basic plot is overdone in today’s media. An example of this trope is the cliché story of the nerdy girl taking off her glasses at her locker and becoming noticed by the popular high school boy in the hallway, which leads to a romantic relationship after some time. Then the rest of the in-crowd eventually invites her to sit at their lunch tables (usually after some heat from envious roles). These can be seen as small victories for the featured character adjusting to her new-found attention, but are they really?
The invisible-to-popular story can be overplayed and worn out, but Lara Jean Covey, the main character played by actress Lana Condor in “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” switches up on the expected timeline of the familiar romance.
Her thoughts are occupied by the idea of love as she immerses herself in her favorite novels of fantasy and romance, playing the main roles over in her head; however, in the real world, the words from those texts coming to life is her worst fear.
At one point in the movie when Condor’s character is reflecting on the reason as to why she’s never dated anyone, she says, “I love to read about it and it’s fun to write about, and to think about in my head, but when it’s real…” and another character coaxes the word “scary” out of her. She replies saying, “‘Cause the more people you let into your life, the more that can just walk right out.”
Her fear of showing love does not keep her from loving with a pen and paper. She knows she is quiet and unnoticed, but is comfortable with herself. Though she hides behind love letters, she is not awkward or nervous about it. She loves herself for who she is.
The reason I would recommend this movie over similar ones in this genre is because Lara Jean teaches her audience a valuable lesson: Never change who you are in order to receive love.
There is no montage of a makeover and trying on clothes. She is Lara Jean, scrunchie and all.
Although she gains the confidence to come out from behind the words in her books, the courage was within her all along.
I believe her initial fear is why audiences find her so appealing. She is relatable. She is scared of someone knowing that she loves them, for fear of the love becoming real and feeling the real pain that comes with losing someone you love.
Yet, her victory is found when she is rewarded for letting someone into her heart, because it is then when she realizes that someone else loves her as much as she loves herself. Had she not had confidence in herself, she may have depended on the love of a boy to put a price tag on who she is and what she is worth.
That being said, Lara Jean also has a strong, encouraging group to depend on – her two sisters, one younger and one older. So many times, films set in high school portray sibling rivalries, but not for the Covey girls. This sister trio will melt your heart. They look to each other for everything and do not hold grudges, even for what can seem like unforgivable offenses.
Overall, I would rate this movie exceptionally, for its originality, new perspective and relatable qualities.