“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is Your Perfect Modern-Day Teen Classic and Here’s Why:
Oh, hello. If you are a millennial and alive, you’ve probably heard of the new Netflix Original movie, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”. It’s about teenage girl, I’d call her a semi-outcast (not as big a social pariah as an *actual* outcast but also quite far from popularity) who spends most of her time with her family and avoiding high school social events, but who also has what could only be called a *rich* inner world where she spends time fantasizing about whichever crush is current (at the time we meet her, it’s her neighbor slash older sister’s boyfriend Josh. #Yikes). Over the years when she’s gotten a crush too intense to express to the actual person (which let’s be honest, aren’t they all?), she’s decided to write her feelings down in a letter addressed to the boy. Never to be sent, just to be kept safely away in her closet unbeknownst to anyone — that is of course until… THEY GET OUT. dun dun dunnnnnnnnnn.
So we find Lara Jean (that’s her name) essentially having the worst day of all our lives, and while seeking sanctuary at a local diner, she runs into one of her imaginary suitors, 7th-grade crush Peter Krasinsky (second time she’s had to face him that day, btw. Super rough). After driving her home and some fun banter at her expense, he proposes a plan to pretend to be in a relationship so that her rapidly declining (and mind you, already pretty low) social status can cease its freefall, she can have an emotional alibi for not being into her sister’s (now ex-) boyfriend, and Peter’s bitch-ex-girlfriend (also LJ’s ex-best friend because #dimension) will get jealous and want to get back together with him. BUT THEN. As absolutely NO ONE could have predicted, their fake feelings for each other develop into real feelings for each other and because they’re high schoolers it takes them MONTHS, perhaps close to a year, to be able to admit this to each other, eventually — assumedly — living happily ever after, or at least until college. AH YOUNG LOVE.
TATBILB (that’s what we’re calling it now, I’m not typing out that title every single time) has all your classic-teen-movie, John-Hughes-esque elements, and it even makes reference to those works in a few scenes. We’ve got the quirky, cute-but-hugely-underrated protagonist (with AMAZING style btw), the small support gang of friends, and by gang I mean one girl (cousins with the bitch-ex-friend because like I said, #dimension) and then a gay guy that started as a lettered boy and isn’t really her friend until later in the movie, but like sure. We’ve got the Dreamy Popular Jock with a Heart™ (captain of the lacrosse team now though instead of football because hello it’s 2018). And a WACKY romantic plan, fraught with pitfalls, that leads our two star-crossed lovers directly into each other’s arms, of course not without some pretty serious misunderstandings to overcome.
But, even while possessing those elements, TATBILB comes with very distinct 2018 swag. First of all, in the ever-growing spirit of increasing representation for marginalized groups, the protagonist is of Asian descent, and it is a point that is observed without being bastardized or caricatured. Even within the family, her father is white and I feel like her sisters don’t look anything like her. Other than knowing their mother passed away, I’m not wholly sure what the setup is, but I also think that’s the point. To be able to accept something — to be able to accept that these people are family — without having to know exactly how it came to be.
Then there’s the clear nod to the effect social media’s had on dating in the last few years. In one of their fights, Peter yells at Lara Jean for “never posting about him on her Instagram”, which then made me stop and think like, is this something I would be angry about in this day and age? You know what, prolly. I’m not above it.
And then there’s the music, we *must* talk about the music! It was like walking through a Madewell for 90 minutes — all soft tones, slightly funky beats, sitars and steel drums. Even the cinematography and coloring felt both vibrant and intimate. In many scenes where two characters were centered, they appeared to use a fisheye lens, to bring them closer to the viewer, to bring us into the story.
All of these things coming together, the familiarity of 80’s classics with the freshness of a millennial spin blended right into the perfect comfort rom-com. Something that feels new and known at the same time. Even the predictable pitfalls, and triumphant “I love you”s exchanged at the end only added to the charm rather than dulling the experience. I don’t know that it’ll change your life or give you some great epiphany, although you know what maybe it will! I don’t know your life. But even if it’s just a nice digestible movie for you to snuggle up with a blanket and some popcorn to on a Friday night, I think that’s okay too.
Thumbnail retrieved from Google, is not my property at all