Lara Jean lives with her two sisters and dad. Lara Jean lives a rich fantasy life dreaming of the perfect romance. The love of her life is her close friend Josh…who is dating her older sister Margot. The night before going to college overseas, Margo breaks up with Josh. Now, Lara Jean has dealt with her biggest crushes by writing a love letter that she saved in a box. They are addressed, but never sent (of course). But then, one day, her crushes receive their letters…leaving Lara Jean in a freaked out state.
She wants to avoid Josh, and ends up in a situation where she and an older crush Peter, whom she is over and who recently was dumped by his girlfriend (and Lara’s Bully), create a fake public relationship. At first they are at odds, doing this for selfish reasons. But as is so often the case, their defenses start to drop around each other the longer the longer relationship goes on. It complicates her relationship to Josh and her family, coming between her and her family’s close connection…especially with Margot.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before breaks no real ground in the romantic comedy genre…and why the end surprised me I am not sure. I mean, maybe the misdirect at the open of the film caused me to leap to the wrong conclusion and this may be a strength of the film.
But in spite of a cliched plot, this is a pretty charming teen film. Lana Condor is both sympathetic and likable as Lara Jean. And really, the whole cast is pretty charming, which allowed me to be less annoyed by the cliches. Lara Jean’s motive for being closed off to people outside her family is understandable, and the family dynamic is effectively sweet. John Corbett plays her father, and there is a scene where he and Lara have a dinner in a cafe, and he apologizes for not talking about their mother more, that he has let them down with how he dealt with their loss when she died years earlier. And then he shares a story about a date in the same cafe, and telling Lara Jean that he see the same spirit in her. It is a tender moment between father and daughter that also gives her permission to open up to the world.
This is a sweet film and I genuinely enjoyed it.