Monday, 3 September 2018

To All The Boys I've Loved Before - Netflix Originals Review

Netlfix's latest film to hit the streaming service is To All The Boys I've Loved Before is a refreshing, female led take on the high school movie.
Directed by Susan Johnson and adapted from Jenny Han's novel by Sofia Alvarez, it is perfect for anyone looking to achieve the #52FilmsbyWomen challenge this year.
Lara Jean Covey is a shy, high school girl. She has never had a boyfriend but she has had plenty of crushes. Including one of her best friends Josh who happens to be going out with her older sister. Rather than tell the boys how she feels, she writes them a letter and keeps them in a box hidden in her bedroom.
In one of those "only in the movies" moments, these letters (which just happen to be, as Stevie Wonder might say, signed and sealed and stamped) are delivered to the unsuspecting recipients which causes shockwaves through her social life and social standing at school.
Where the film might have taken a High Fidelity-style trip down memory lane as Lara Jean is forced to track down and confront all the boys she has loved before, instead it takes a different path.
Focusing on two boys in particular, the plot veers more towards a She's All That/Pygmalion plot as she forms a pact with high school jock Peter to pretend to be a couple in order to make their exes/friends jealous.
The film might not be reinventing the wheel but that does not matter one single iota thanks to a tight, fun screenplay and a star-making performance by Lana Condor. Previously best known for a small role in X-Men Apocalypse in which she managed to make one of the worst X-Men in Jubilee actually appealing, she is destined for great things on the back of this film.
As Lara Jean becomes to come out of her shell, Condor's confidence shines through as the character becomes more independent and sets out a strong example for young women as she refuses to be treated as the butt of the jokes and catty attitudes to girls at school who are the targets of jealousy and sexual promiscuity.
As mentioned, the ending of the movie is written in the stars before the letters are even posted but that is no fault of these stars Condor and Noah Centenio who are perfect together and have the audience rooting for them all the way.
One minor point though. Are we really expected to believe that teenagers these days i.e. people born in the Noughties are watching John Hughes movies as their guides to growing up? Would they not be watching the likes of Mean Girls or even Clueless? Which themselves are scarily 14 and 23 years old already! Surely the Sixteen Candles and Breakfast Clubs of this world are the childhood movies of their parents who would show the kids these movies and the young people would be bemused as to what makes them classics?
Will To All The Boys I've Loved Before achieve that cult classic status itself thirty years from now? Only time will tell but until then it is the perfect love letter to all the high school romance movies that have come before.

3 stars

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