The story of Lara Jean Song encapsulates the perfect romantic comedy, sans the clichés. She’s simply a girl in love who’s fearful to give her heart away. When Lara Jean has an intense crush, she writes love letters, addresses them, but never sends them out. Out of the blue, the letters are mysteriously sent, and all of her secret feelings are revealed to all the boys she’s ever been in love with.
Jenny Han’s New York Times bestselling novel “To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is now a major motion picture on Netflix. The film has been gaining ample attention, as the story features an Asian-American lead, Lana Condor.
The movie is overall successful in following the main plot within an hour and a half timespan. Its central focus is on Lara Jean’s love story with Peter Kavinsky, played by Noah Centineo. In the film, Kavinsky's character is portrayed as a jock she’d once kissed while playing spin the bottle in middle school. The drama doesn’t stop there. He’s now dating Genevieve, Lara Jean’s ex-best friend. He’s also one of the boys who received a letter.
The two end up in a fake relationship after Genevieve breaks up with Kavinsky, and Lara Jean’s letter to her older sister’s boyfriend, Josh, is put into question. Kavinsky longs to get back with Genevieve and Lara Jean wants to clear up her feelings for Josh. As time passes, she starts to question the fakeness of this silly ruse.
Despite mostly following the plot, there were a few important characters left out of the movie as well as little but meaningful details that provided a background on certain characters. For example, Kavinsky’s character is much more complex and emotional in the novel. He’s more torn between Lara Jean and Genevieve in the books and goes through a significant level of stress when dealing with his feelings about his father. Also, Lara Jean’s older sister, Margot, doesn’t play as big of a role as she did in the movie compared to the book’s plot. The movie also doesn’t expand upon the fact that Kavinsky, Lara Jean and Genevieve were all childhood friends at one point.
There were also certain details the movie changed up completely, or just left out in general. Two crucial things that should’ve been more prevalent in the film was the unbreakable bond between the Song sisters and the importance of their Korean background. There were definitely scenes that showcased their one-of-a-kind sisterly relationship, but I do wish there were more throughout the entire film. Things like Korean yogurt drinks and Korean face masks were brought up on screen, but there wasn’t much on Lara Jean’s Korean side of the family and appreciation for the culture when compared to the book.
In addition, the setting of the novel was in Charlottesville, Virginia, but the movie’s was in Portland, Oregon. This would make a stark difference if a sequel would ever be considered — going to a Virginia college is an important topic in the novels.
For the most part, this short and sweet film covers most of the novel’s major storylines and character personalities. Condor did a fantastic job playing Lara Jean, capturing every quirk of her bubbly and intuitive personality. The outfits chosen for the film were spot-on as well — Condor’s wardrobe was dainty, girly, colorful and true to her character. Both Condor and Centineo were marvelous choices for leads Lara Jean and Peter. They fit well as their characters, and it was a delight to watch a real-life Lara Jean and Kavinsky interacting with each other.
Contact Kailey Cheng at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.