Tuesday, April 16, 2019

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

Movie Name/Year: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)
Tagline: The letters are out
Genre: Drama, Romance
Length: 99 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Production Companies: Awesomeness Films, Overbrook Entertainment, All The Boys Productions
Producer: Brett Bouttier, Dougie Cash, Don Dunn, Warren Fischer, Megan Greydanus, Jenny Han, Jessica Held, Kelsey Jackson, Matthew Kaplan, Jordan Levin, Robyn Marshall, Max Siemers, Vicki Sotheran
Director: Susan Johnson
Writer: Sofia Alvarez, Jenny Han
Actors: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish, Anna Cathcart, Andrew Bachelor, Trezzo Mahoro, Madeleine Arthur, Emilija Baranac, Israel Broussard, John Corbett, Kelcey Mawema, Julia Benson, Joey Pacheco, Edward Kewin, Jordan Burtchett, June B. Wilde, Isabelle Beech, Hunter Dillon, Christian Michael Cooper, Rhys Fleming, Pavel Piddocke, Jeb Beach

Blurb from Netflix: When her secret love letters somehow get mailed to each of her five crushes, Lara Jean finds her quiet high school existence turned upside down.

Selina’s Point of View:
I really loved To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

The bulk of the idea isn’t the most original in the world. It’s been done quite a bit. The movie I thought of most often as a comparison was Drive Me Crazy (1999). The thing that separated this film from all others was pure quality.

For this movie, the lead-up to the main story was much more inspired and realistic than some of them. Add to that the chemistry of the characters and the addition of current issues that teenagers face, and you wind up with a really great movie that has a chance to become iconic for an entire generation.

There is some possibility that I’m bias in favor of the film because the lead up made extra sense to me.

I didn’t write letters to people that I had feelings for back then, but I did write poems and stories. They were very specific and it was always easy to tell who I was talking about. In Junior High School, some (so-called) friends spread one of those stories around. Let’s just say my situation turned out significantly worse than the one in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. It led to bullying that got so bad that I actually stopped writing stories altogether for a very long time. I had trouble trusting friends. My confidence plummeted. I stopped really even going to school just to get away from it.

So, I can definitely understand why a girl who wrote some love letters would believe it could ruin her life if they got out. There’s realism in that worry.

That means I also understand why she might go to such lengths as she did in the film to keep it from spreading even further.

In the end, Lana Condor (Deadly Class, Alita: Battle Angel, X-Men: Apocalypse) makes the main character feel incredibly relatable.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a special movie. It took a recipe, twisted it into something new, and gave us gold.

Cat’s Point of View:
I remember being intrigued by the trailer for this movie when we were considering the Top 20 for its month of release. I can’t, for the life of me, remember why it didn’t make it onto my personal list. It did, however, make it onto Selina’s at #16. It’s possible that I was thinking it’d be more teen-drama than I was wanting. If that was the case, I’m glad to say that I was wrong.

Sure, the teen drama’s there – but it’s not presented in that predictable way that makes you want to roll your eyes so hard they’re looking behind you.  

I had no trouble relating with main character, Lara Jean. I WAS her for a good bit of my school career. My nose was often buried in books and my inner hopeless romantic lived vicariously through my imagination. I also had a journal in which I had doodles and random thoughts about life and the people around me. Someone swiped it, and years of bullying ensued in retribution for my private thoughts that had become public. I remember the sickening sinking feeling when it happened. (Thank goodness my experiences were in the age before the internet.) 

I really enjoyed Lana Condor (X-Men: Apocalypse, Alita: Battle Angel, Deadly Class) in this role. It’s a bit of a departure from the characters I’m used to seeing her portray and I’m glad this film gives a chance to see more of her range.

The chemistry and interactions between the cast of characters within this story were all believable. I had no problem buying in and sinking into the story. It made the movie fly by and I was a bit sad when it was over – yet, the ending gave a clear resolution and didn’t leave me hanging. I’m excited to see that there will be a sequel which seems to be slated for release in 2020.

I will admit, though, that I haven’t read the book that this was based on. I don’t know that I will, given the length of my to-read list as it is. For this reason, I can’t comment on whether or not the adaptation was faithful to the source. I can say that the author made a cameo in the film so that bodes well, at least.

I’m glad that this movie was a pleasant surprise, and I’d have no problem recommending it to anyone looking for a film in this genre. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 97%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 87%
Metascore – 64/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.8/10
IMDB Score – 7.3/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating5/5

P.S. There’s a mid-credits scene.

Movie Trailer:

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