To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: an Honest Review

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Photo by Charley Galley

Photo by Charley Galley

Photo by Charley Galley

Sofia Benavides, Feature Editor

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Recently, a new Netflix original has stirred the hearts of many of our fellow Royals. It’s a teen romantic comedy called To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and as junior Paige Hesseltine says, “It’s just really stinking adorable.”

The film follows high school junior Lara Jean (Lana Condor) as she experiences her first love- heartthrob Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo). Isabella Pasino ‘20 says, “My favorite parts were when Peter and Lara Jean had their little moments: him taking her scrunchie and saying she looked pretty, taking selfies at the party, the love notes Peter wrote her, and of course the way they look at each other!”

But here’s where the controversy comes strolling in: If you know me at all, you probably know that I didn’t exactly love this movie. Is it just me? Well, after conducting a poll around the Rosary campus, I found that 88% of students who had seen the film loved it. So, yeah. Maybe it is just me.

But why did Royals love this movie so much? Well, as I mentioned before, it was mostly Peter Kavinsky. But many students had other reasons for loving what I thought was a more-than-cheesy rom-com.

Lolani Blas ‘21 says, “I loved it because it was pretty similar to the book. Also, the story is more than a cliche love story. There’s Asian-American representation, and the story contains themes about family too.”

Major props to Lolani for advocating for minority representation in film, but senior Rebekah Barnabas challenges this, saying, “They get an Asian actor but make her play the predictable, naive young girl. Like, come on. That’s like the Indian kid playing the robotics spelling bee kid. That’s not true diversity.” Regardless of varying opinions, the filmmakers did hire an Asian-American actor to play the part of Lara Jean, so kudos to them.

Isabella Pasino also gave me some insight that I hadn’t otherwise realized. She’s taken some film classes in the past and notices when the cinematography of a movie is better than usual. She says, “The way the movie was edited made the story clear and easy to follow. The colors in places like Lara Jean’s room made the whole picture and whatever was going on in that scene interesting. Some shots were filmed in different angles (above, fishbowl lens, eye level, the floor) which gave the scene a different look and made me want to know what would happen next.”

So if this movie is so great, why did I dislike it so much? Well, I might be overthinking it a little- it wouldn’t be the first time. Personally, I didn’t find the acting very convincing, especially that of Lara Jean’s older sister, Margot. But this was hardly the actress’s fault- it was mostly her scripted dialogue. Recited aloud, it felt awkward, clunky, and unrealistic.

The movie was also dramatic in places it shouldn’t have been. Example? [WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD] When we meet Lara Jean’s ex-best friend Genevieve, it’s a hackneyed slow-mo-hair-flip while she explains the details of the classic best-friend-but-then-popularity-became-a-thing-trope in relation to Gen. That’s a little too cliche for me.

Also, Lara Jean’s current best friend happens to be Gen’s cousin- coincidence? Yeah. Literally just a coincidence. It has nothing to do with the rest of the movie, and it seems like they kept doing this. Early in the film, Margot breaks up with her boyfriend because her late mother told her she should never go to college with a boyfriend. Sound important? Again, it’s not. They never mention it again in the movie.

Overall, I felt it was a little too disjointed, awkward, and cliche to be enjoyable. But, well. To each their own, right? Sophomore Marysol Cazarez sums the movie up pretty well: “It was so awkward and amazing at the same time…kinda how high school is in real life.”

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