Lara (Lana Condor) is a stereotypical brown mouse, who in high school belongs to the group of outsiders that are never invited to the parties. What’s interesting, the protagonist, when being a perfect embodiment of unpopular girl, at the same doesn’t repeat the scheme of unattractive brainiac. The director of the movie “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”), Susan Johnson, makes Lara more interesting than another copy of one of the most popular figures from teenage-dramas. The girl is shy and withdrawn, but her personality has more colours than only black and white. The story focuses on showing the potential reasons of the girl’s tendency to dream more than live. The entire movie is pretty obvious and predictable, but the constructions of characters that at the same time multiply and exceed schemes add to it a lot of charm.
Lara used to write letters to all the boys that she liked, but instead of sending them, she would always keep them in a special box. The box with unsent love letters became a sort of diary – the girl was writing to many different guys that she was fascinated with in different moments of her life. One day, with a little help from someone who really cares about Lara, all letters where delivered to theirs addressees, which – obviously – caused a series of more or less fortunate meetings, dialogues and opened new chapter in Lara’s life. It was a very special chapter, because it was happening in the space of reality and not in safe territory of dreams.
“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is an adaptation of a very light and very girly (in the best possible meaning of this word) book and the director manages to keep the charm and the freshness of the written story and translate it into the cinema language. Unfortunately, Johnson loses big part of the depth from the original. The author of the story was describing Lara’s letter as a way of protecting herself from all possible disappointments that love has to offer.
The written world was for her a safe space, in which she was never about to lose anyone or anything important. In the movie this tendency to hide in the space of imagination gets hackneyed and trivialized – it’s brought to a level of comedic drive. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that the director totally destroys the dramatic potential of the story; on the contrary – Johnson is really amazing in intimate, cameral scenes that turn her movie into something more than a schematic romantic comedy based on a story of typical high school love.
“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is a movie that is perfect in its imperfection. The story is as extremely obvious as a story can get, but at the same time is fulfilled d with scenes, pictures, and – last but not least – words that are more authentic and moving than the most of popular (and cheesy) stories in the history of cinema.