Title: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Motion Picture Rating: TV-14
Release Date: 2018
Director: Susan Johnson
Runtime: 99 mins.
Adapted From: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
***Please note that this review contains spoilers for both the film and novel To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Read at your own discretion.***
Lara Jean has never had a boyfriend, though she’s been in love plenty of times. Five, to be exact. And to each one of those boys, she’s written a letter professing her love. Those letters are signed, sealed, and hidden in a safe place in her bedroom. Until one day, those letters get mailed…and Lara Jean has to deal with the aftermath. Yikes.
I’ve been dying to watch this movie ever since it came out on Netflix. But you know me… Can’t watch the movie till I read the book. I usually prefer reading series as opposed to listening to them on Audiobook, but I knew it’d be ages until I ever decided to buy the To All the Boys series. So I just went ahead and listened to the Audiobook—you can find my review here.
After loving the book, I was really hoping the movie wouldn’t be a flop. The last YA adaptation I watched—Love, Simon—fell flat to me, but To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before restored my faith in the YA film industry! The casting was good, the story remained the same (though with mostly minor, necessary changes), and the mood was just right.
Let’s start with the cast. Lana Condor was the perfect choice for Lara Jean.
Not only is Condor a great actress, but she perfectly embodied the dreamy, quirky Lara Jean from the novel. She’s so, so pretty and is exactly how I pictured Lara Jean.
Noah Centineo was also perfectly cast as Peter Kavinsky.
Ugh. Thank god that boy is the same age as me and not actually 17 years old, or I’d feel creepy… He is gorgeous, let’s be real. Also, he captured Peter’s qualities in the book and made them better. Honestly, Peter is kind of a dick in the book. I mean, yeah, he’s charming and all, but he’s not the best guy. Centineo downplayed those negative aspects about his character and brought out the charming characteristic above all. And since I saw the movie trailer before reading the book, I definitely pictured Peter as Centineo while reading, which certainly helped my opinion of book-Peter as well.
All the other characters are fairly minor. Though I didn’t dislike any casting choices, I definitely pictured Margot and Kitty a lot differently. Josh was fine, and the actor who played Chris (Madeleine Arthur) actually made me like the character a lot more. Lara Jean’s dad, Dr. Covey, was perfectly cast, and I loved him with all my heart. I love dorky dads.
Okay. As for the changes, there were quite a few, which I normally hate in adaptations. However, I felt they were mostly necessary in this case. To All the Boys the book is a slow-burn love story with tons of important scenes, both family- and boy-related. The character development of Lara Jean takes the entire book to really flush out. The story itself also needs time to flesh out. You can’t really do that in a movie, so To All the Boys the movie had to cut corners where they could. The movie was way more focused on Lara Jean and Peter, putting the other 4 boys—yes, Josh included—and the family dynamic on the back burner. The relationship between Lara Jean and Peter was also fast-forwarded, of course, since its hard to make a YA slow burn romance on the big screen. All these changes felt necessary and didn’t really hinder the film, though I would have liked to see more emphasis on the Song girls, like in the book.
Some changes that did bug me: For starters, certain characters shortened Lara Jean’s name to LJ. They literally called her LJ. I get that this doesn’t really affect the story, but it kind of changes Lara Jean’s character. I really don’t think she’d want to be called LJ. It seemed very odd. And though the movie did keep Laura Jean’s dreamy-eyed mentality, they kind of downplayed her dorky-ness. Also I really hated her messy room because in the book she’s super organized and meticulous. I don’t know. It bugged me because it felt like an unnecessary deviation. But it really didn’t change the story.
What changed the story and bugged me was that Josh was not in love with Lara Jean. He still hated Peter, though it seemed like in the movie for no reason whatsoever because for one, he doesn’t even like Lara Jean like that, and two, the whole ‘tattling for cheating’ storyline isn’t mentioned, so why does Josh hate Peter so much??? It didn’t make sense in the movie. And I would have liked to see that scene where Josh kisses Lara Jean and admits his feelings towards her. But oh well. Guess it was just a time-saver.
As for the mood, I liked how dramatic and dreamy the whole thing was. I mean, the opening scene is hilarious. And all of Lara Jean’s letter moments are just fantastically funny. It definitely felt YA, and it worked well. The atmosphere felt exactly right.
Though I did enjoy the movie—especially the ski trip part because wow I’m so in love with the hot tub scene—I can definitely say with all my heart I prefer the book. I felt more butterflies, more bubbly, while reading the book. And I liked that the book was able to take its time with the story and the romance. Honestly, Netflix, I would have liked to see this as a TV series instead of a film.
The ending of the movie gave me the impression that there won’t be a sequel? But then I read that there will be a sequel in 2020. But then I also read the description for book 2 (which I haven’t yet read) and I have no idea how they’re supposed to adapt this with Lara already dating/made up with Peter???? Unless, the end of the movie actually happens in the beginning of book 2. I don’t know. I guess I just need to read the darn thing. And hopefully before the movie comes out this time.