Movie Review: Why We All Need Lara Jean

Lana Condor stars in the new Netflix original To All the Boys I've Loved Before as a teenage girl whose secret love letters are exposed. Promotional Photo by Masha_Weisberg © Awesomeness Films

By Brittney Bender

Cardinal Courier Photo Editor

In the age of romance having gone digital, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a Netflix original film, based on a novel of the same name by Jenny Hann, that uses the pastime of love letters to tell a unique story in today’s world. The film, like some recent ones of the same genre on the streaming service, gives audiences the depth and charm of a John Hughes blockbuster from the 80s with a more progressive tone.

Lara Jean, the main protagonist, has small developments in her character that have the audience loving and rooting the good that happens to her. With past female main characters in teen comedies being mainly caucasian, the representation in Lara Jean and her sisters being half-Korean and half-caucasian is new and refreshing. We, as the audience, are let into the life of an upper-middle class teen girl and the chance to explore the conventions of dating and how romance from movies themselves affect how commitment works today.

The acting remains pure, but at times can be cheesy as expected from a teen rom-com. Although there are four other boys included in the letters sent from Lara’s closet, the acting from Noah Centineo, who played Peter, showed charm and versatility instead of typical popular boy characteristics expected most times. The slow moments that dive into intimate dialogue are what give the movie so much heart and deserving of views.

The film isn’t perfect in every way. It still brings to the screen some tropes we’ve seen in earlier in films whose plot surrounds the lives of teenagers and their romantic endeavors. But while it may include overused plot points, ordinary imagery, an expected pop soundtrack, it still gives a lesson of realizing how much opportunity awaits in telling accurate and diverse teen stories in film. So even though the end product wouldn’t be award worthy, it provides hope for future films and those who remain excited to see what Netflix may put forth in the future.

Run time: 1 hour, 39 minutes

Rating: TV-14

Available on: Netflix

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