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A talented cast brings ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ to life

| Tuesday, September 4, 2018

DOMINIQUE DeMOE | The Observer

Readers of Jenny Han’s trilogy of books — “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” “P.S. I Still Love You” and “Always and Forever Lara Jean” — have looked forward to the movie adaptation of the first book since Han’s announcement in July 2017. Netflix acquired the rights to the book in March 2018 and the film was released August 17.

In “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” a talented cast brings the story to life. Lana Condor, as the main character Lara Jean Covey, conveys the daydreaming look and aloof attitude that characterizes Lara Jean through her thoughts and whims. She also captures Lara Jean’s many quirks. These quirks bring her back to earth. Noah Centineo skillfully portrays Peter Kavinsky’s transition from clueless and confident jock to sweet, sentimental boyfriend. Israel Broussard deftly plays Josh, the cute and quiet boy next door while Janel Parrish creates an accurate personage for Margot Covey as the somewhat uptight and very responsible oldest sister.

Anna Cathcart conjures the frenetic energy that makes youngest sister Kitty loveable and annoying at the same time. Her mix of sass and sweetness brightens the film, eliminating any dull moments. Madeleine Arthur animates Chris, Laura Jean’s best friend, with her bright blue eyes and keen awareness. Though she exhibits Chris’ truancy and attitude toward Gen, a best-friend-turned-enemy, she seems a bit less harsh and cold as the Chris in Han’s trilogy. Emiljah Baranac perfects Gen’s death stare, manipulation and arrogance. Trezzo Mahoro infuses Lucas’ character with a balance of flamboyance and wisdom that causes viewers to strongly support his newfound friendship with Lara Jean. John Corbett has mastered the father role in several movies, such as “Ramona and Beezus,” so it is no surprise that he proves a necessary addition to this film as Dr. Covey, father of Margot, Lara Jean and Kitty.

Lara Jean’s voiceover narration of the movie brings viewers up to speed with her past and the background of the other characters. Though she may have her head in the clouds at times, her calm and collected narration shows that she is very observant and grounded. The pauses in action that accompany the first appearance of each character allow her to fully introduce them without losing the viewers in the plot or action of the movie. Her short and sweet descriptions hint at the humor that permeates this romantic comedy.

Aesthetic touches unite the movie in terms of visual presentation. Lara Jean’s room reflects her personality. It envelops viewers, allowing them to catch a glimpse of Lara Jean’s whimsical world. It provides the perfect place for Lara Jean to take refuge. The Van Gogh-esque blue walls combined with plush carpets, stuffed bookshelves and a dream board over her desk create a comfortable and homey atmosphere. With a room like hers, it is understandable that she doesn’t feel the need to go out much.

Lara Jean’s style emphasizes her ability to pull things together — at least on the outside. Throughout the movie, her outfits always contain at least one statement piece of bright color or detailed design. Certain scenes weave together pleasing color schemes. These color schemes are most notable in the moment Laura Jean flees Josh’s first attempt at confronting her since receiving his letter. She rolls off her roof, grabs her sparkly blue bike and books it to the Corner Café. As she parks her bike, the blues, reds and whites in Laura Jean’s sweater are echoed in the Corner Café sign, making for a compelling and beautiful cinematic shot.

The soundtrack, which includes Blood Orange, Twinsmith and Wild Nothing, definitely complements this film. Lauv’s song “I Like Me Better” corresponds with the excitement and anticipation of the high school ski trip. It creates an optimistic and hopeful energy for the fun times ahead. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears is a great choice for the exchange between Lara Jean and her dad at the Corner Café. Its mellow rhythm and smooth melody echo the comfort and peace that family members bring to each other. The nostalgia that it adds to Dr. Covey’s reminiscence about his late wife is both bittersweet and heartwarming.

All told, the ending of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is well worth the wait. Everything comes together after all of the ups and downs and twists and turns of the plot. And, in an intriguing move, the movie’s writers left the ending wide open in terms of the possibility of a sequel — a prospect desired by readers and non-readers alike.

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