The rom-com is a dying breed. Sadly, many of Hollywood’s either fizzle at the box office or aren’t generally well liked by the critics. However, rom-coms are great. Personally, it’s an underutilized genre and is needed in this overwhelming life we live. One rom-com that is taking Netflix by storm is “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” based on the Jenny Han novel of the same name. Funny, poignant and relatable, “To All the Boys” is a film with heart, lots of it and it’ll leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling.
Lara Jean (Lana Condor) is a typical teenager in Oregon. She has two sisters, Margot (Janel Parrish) and Kitty (Anna Cathcart), a loving dad (John Corbett) and a healthy love of trashy romance novels which have shaped her ideas of relationships. Lara Jean’s never been in a relationship herself, but she writes love letters to the boys she falls in love with. There are five altogether. One to Josh (Israel Broussard), Margot’s ex-boyfriend; Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo); a boy from Model UN; a boy from camp; and fellow student Lucas (Trezzo Mahoro). When the love letters are sent out, Lara Jean’s life changes in ways she wasn’t expecting.
Let’s talk about Centineo and Condor. Condor, seen recently in “X-Men: Apocalypse,” dominates the screen as Lara Jean. Finding teenage actors with the emotional range and adorable facial expressions that Condor has feels almost impossible, but Condor pulls off Lara Jean with an effortless effervescence that makes the audience believe in everything she’s going through. Lara Jean is a character that is so relatable, many people in the audience will find themselves easily identifying with Lara Jean.
Centineo is a hunk. There’s just no better way to say that. He embodies Peter in the same effortless way that Condor embodies Lara Jean. Peter may be a hunk but he’s not an insensitive or emotionless hunk. This is a male character that is fully fleshed out and doesn’t fall into the pit of typical rom-com jock tropes which is refreshing for a movie that is decidedly billed as a rom-com.
I think that’s what makes “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” so different from other more recent rom-coms. The formula may be familiar but the tropes that usually inhabit romantic comedies aren’t present here and if they are, they’re done in a fresh way. Basically, everything about this film is fresh and believable. It’s the believability that makes it such a different animal from other films in the same genre.
“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” deserves to be the new staple for teen romantic comedies. From the writing to the acting, the film is something that I don’t feel audiences have seen before. That’s a good thing. Here’s to hoping that Netflix will option the rights to the other Han novels in the series so we can see more Lara Jean, more Kavinsky, and more of this wonderful world.