To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018) - USA
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
In line with Asian Americans representation, Netflix releases just at the right moment one of the best teen romantic comedies and coming of age film in 2018. The fact that Netflix is having a bad run of poor films add to this success and with the diverse casting, making this a sweet win for all. Vietnamese American Lana Condor is cast as the lead protagonist and manages to defy most genre cliches to come up with a fresh and lovely performance as the sweet and smart next door not neighbour girl struggling to find love in reality and instead joy her way through films, books and fantasy inside her head.
What makes it all the more interesting is that despite based on the novel with the same name and about Korean American experience. It is the kind of role that used to be whitewashed by Hollywood studios and the way the movie plays out with a level of sophistication and engagement, that is fun and playful at the same time. It is also the kind of film that you will probably want to watch again.
Director Susan Johnson make use of the cast extremely well. It shows that a good story makes all the difference as it translate so convincingly well on-screen. What makes this film special is the fact that it never tries too hard and remains very enjoyable and fun loving throughout. You feel for Condor’s experiences, situations and the interactions are celebrated. Noel Centineo does extremely well as the rebel without cause and the portray the Hollywood opposite attracts by partnering with Condor. Never once, do they seem forced and like the earlier success of Netflix’s “Set it Up”, it’s ultimately the duo chemistry that wins the audience.
All in all, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” works not because of the Asian Americans representation movement / bias, but by virtue of merit of being a good film with a quality story to tell. There are many stories growing up as an Asian American and most of them are unique yet relatable and universal. This may well be one of the better Teen romance comedy in the past decade and most definitely within the age of streaming Netflix era.
I rated it 8.5/10