‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ falls short of expectations

Hira Baig and Yuzuki Okuda

Susan Johnson’s film, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, a new Netflix film, is an adaptation from Jenny Han’s novel which depicts high school life and its drama from the perspective of a quiet Asian girl. Considering the amount of hype that To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was getting, the actual movie itself was a little disappointing.

The movie follows Lara Jean (Lana Condor), a junior in high school, who always felt invisible, but experiences the spotlight for the first time through a fake relationship. Five love letters that she wrote for her crushes, including her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh (Israel Broussard), are accidentally sent, causing her to make a contract with Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo), one of the recipients of her love letters, to be in a fake relationship so that he can get back together with his ex-girlfriend and also save Lara Jean from having a misunderstanding with her sister, Margot (Janel Parrish).

The advancement of the portrayal of Asian Americans in society is a groundbreaker for the American movie industry. This movie expressed a different side of Asian Americans and did not convey Lara Jean and her family as stereotypically harsh accented, nerdy and unpopular. Instead, it showed the reality of how Asian Americans are no different from their Caucasian counterparts. Her different race never took a major role in how her character developed and the people around her. You could replace her with someone of a different race and the story would not have been greatly impacted and it goes to show how race doesn’t affect how you experience high school life. Also, in American media Asians rarely take the role as the main character and instead are shown on the periphery.

Despite its progressive casting, the basic structure of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before lacks proper development of the plot and characters. Throughout the whole movie, it’s tough to establish a connection with the characters, causing them to be indifferent to the events and experiences that they go through. Watching it as a high school student, Lara Jean’s life is unrelatable due to how unnaturally the events unfold. The whole story is something straight out of a YA book (which it actually is!) you read as a middle schooler, hoping that high school life will be like it, but never really is. The movie gives its best effort to be relatable and make the characters realistic, however her living in a huge house, having a bond with her family so strong, and a cute next door neighbor, makes everything seem fake and planned out.

As a whole, the movie has a lighthearted feel with young and vibrant actors which will cheer you up, but is nothing very unique. There is no part in this movie that stands out from all the other cliche, teenage, romance movies out there. With its predictable plot and the shallow storyline, it left us wanting more. For a film that seeks to convey the teen experience, it falls short from achieving a connection with the audience because of its lack of a moral or a deeper meaning.