The more 2018 rages on, the more I’m convinced that we live in the darkest timeline. Like Superman is dead, the Justice League has disbanded and Lex Luther is president, darkest timeline.
But, if you’re searching for diverse, dynamic characters, it’s hard not to see the flying spaghetti monster who controls the universe has gifted us with some pretty great movies this year. February gave us Black Panther. In March there was A Wrinkle in Time and Love, Simon. June brought Ocean’s 8 and on the heels of another rom-com, August gifted us with the adorable To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.
To All The Boys I’ve loved Before follows Lara Jean Song Covey a girl with a romantic streak as long her name with a bit of a problem. When she falls in love, as opposed to telling the object of her affection, she writes a letter, signs and seals it, and then puts it in the hatbox her mother gave her never to see the light of day. That is until one day Lara Jean’s letters are mailed out to her crushes and suddenly our hapless heroine has to deal with the prospect of love outside of her imagination. Taking a page out of LJ’s book I’m going to give you five reasons, one for every boy she loved, that this movie needs to be on your Netflix queue if it isn’t already.
1. It’s a great adaptation
Any bibliophile knows that sometimes adaptations just disappoint, this movie was based on the amazing Jenny Han’s 2014 book and through music and an incredible aesthetic captures the spirit of the book perfectly. In two hours it captures the fear, the growing pains, the familial bond, and sometimes tragic awkwardness that goes along with first love seamlessly.
2. Peter Kavinsky
What’s a girl to do when her secret love letters have made their way out into the world? If you’re Lara Jean, you start fake-dating one of the handsome boys you crushed on in middle school to save face: Peter Kavinsky. Let’s be real, there’s a lot to love about the Romantic Comedy genre, but there’s also no shortage of problematic men. In far too many movies male love interests pursue and in doing so degrade the women they say they love in a way that deprives them of agency and conflates stalking with romance. Peter Kavinsky is the anti-Edward Cullen. He learns about LJ’s likes and dislikes, he’s kind to her family, he respects every one of her boundaries but brings her out of her comfort zone. His only flaw is that he’s not real.
3. The Song-Covey Sisters
Peter and Lara Jean are undoubtedly adorable, but the other great love story taking place in both the novel and the film is between Lara Jean and her sisters Margot and Kitty. From the frustrating to the silly, teasing moments the Song girls share a wonderful bond. Avoiding embarrassment was a motivating factor behind Lara Jean agreeing to a showmance with Peter, but sparing Margot’s feelings (her ex-boyfriend was a letter recipient) was a reason too. It’s clear that Lara Jean, Margot, and Kitty love each other more than any boy or girl who might come into the picture.
4. Lara Jean Herself
Lara Jean Song Covey is a mess sometimes and that’s actually kind of great, because who isn’t at sixteen? She’s not a caricature, she’s a three-dimensional Asian-American girl who gets a love interest. She’s smart and shy and insecure and struggles throughout the movie with something universally relatable: being vulnerable. Of course, as the audience, we want to see if LJ and Peter’s fake relationship will become real, but more than that this film is about if Lara Jean’s going to stop hiding and open herself up to a chance at a real relationship, with all the possible heartbreak that could go with it.
5. The Great Jenny Han
Believe it or not this was not an easy book to get written or film to get made. When Jenny Han first brought up the idea for the book a few years ago, she was told no one wanted to read a book about Asian characters (ouch). Fast-forward to when it was optioned, she had to deal with studio after studio who wanted to white-wash Lara Jean not understanding the significance of her character and the importance of representation. Luckily, Han stuck to her guns and now we a have a John Hughs good (minus the racist and homophobic stuff) classic to enjoy.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, much like its protagonist is sweet, endearing, funny and a film that is the hot chocolate for the soul we all need during such trying times. If you watch it I guarantee you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll ship Covinsky.