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Film / To All the Boys I've Loved Before

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"The letters are out."

"My letters are my most prized possession. I write them when I have a crush so intense I don't know what to do."

To All the Boys I've Loved Before is a 2018 Romantic Comedy based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Jenny Han.

High school junior Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) is a hopeless romantic who has never had a boyfriend. She has written five love letters to the most intense crushes of her life, including her childhood friend and crush Josh (Israel Broussard), who is dating her older sister Margot (Janel Parrish). Concerned for her social life, her younger sister Kitty (Anna Cathcart) sends out the letters to their intended recipients — one of whom is Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo), popular guy and ex-boyfriend to resident head bitch Genevieve (Emilija Baranac). Peter approaches Lara Jean with a proposition: they fake-date to get Josh, Genevieve, and the rest of the school off of their backs.

The film was directed by Susan Johnson and was released internationally on Netflix on August 17, 2018.


A sequel based on the second book in the series, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, was released in February 2020, which in turn is going to be followed by an adaptation of the third book, To All the Boys: Always and Forever, Lara Jean.


  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • In the book, Kitty sending out Lara Jean's letters was revenge for embarrassing her, while in the film it's an attempt to get her shy sister out of her shell (if partly so that Kitty can benefit from favors from Lara Jean's boyfriend-to-be.)
    • Josh in the film isn't that romantically interested in Lara Jean, compared to the book version where her letter gets him curious about her as a rebound from Margot and he even forces a kiss on her. Film Josh pretty much just wants to understand what on earth is going on, at worst is overprotective of her from Peter, and when he hears the whole truth has no hard feelings about any of it.
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    • Whether as in the book Lara Jean crashed Margot's car from not looking both ways at a stop, the worst she does here is park badly and almost rear-end Peter.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Lara Jean is "LJ" to those close to her.
    • One of Peter’s friends calls her “Lar-Je” because it sounds like “largie” which is ironic since she’s small.
    • Katherine only allows people close to her to call her "Kitty." When Peter asks if he can drive her and Lara Jean to school every day in exchange of giving him Yakult every day, she immediately includes Peter on the list.
  • Alpha Bitch: Genevieve, to a tee.
  • Ascended Extra: Lucas plays a larger role as Lara Jean's black and Gay Best Friend, in contrast to the book where he pretty much disappears after asking about her letter. She even tells him about the scheme, if only towards the end.
  • Becoming the Mask: Both Peter and Lara Jean start off only dating for their own personal reasons but wind up falling in love with each other.
  • Betty and Veronica: Lara Jean's two love interests are her dependable childhood friend Josh (Betty), and popular jock Peter (Veronica). Meanwhile, Lara Jean herself is the sweet Betty to Alpha Bitch Gen's Veronica for Peter's Archie.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Margot first helps delete the "sex tape" between Peter and Lara Jean when someone posted it online and then stops the latter from harming Kitty when she reveals she's the one who mailed her letters.
  • Bonding over Missing Parents: Peter and Lara Jean connect over losing parents — Lara Jean's mother died when she was young, and Peter's father walked out on them.
  • Book-Ends:
    • The film starts with Lara Jean fantasizing about a romantic meetup with Josh in a field. In the end, she and Peter kiss on the lacrosse field.
    • Lara Jean and Peter share a kiss with each other at the beginning and end of the film.
  • Brick Joke: Just after the credits start to roll, the fifth letter recipient shows up at Lara Jean's door.
  • Broken Ace: Implied with Peter. He's known to be a popular lacrosse jockey and is quite attractive but has some angst with his Disappeared Dad and Gen implies he's not as confident as much as he lets on.
  • Bros Before Hoes: "Sistahs Before Mistahs" variation. Although Lara Jean has feelings for Josh, even after Margot breaks up with him she knows it can never happen between them because Margot still has feelings for him and it would be a betrayal.
  • Bumbling Dad: Dr. Covey is implied to be this by Lara Jean's sisters, due to their mother's passing.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Of the Unlucky variant. Lara Jean has known Josh since they were kids and developed feelings for him when he started going out with her sister. And when they break up, Lara Jean refuses to go out with him out of respect for her sister. And by the end, it's implied Josh returned his feelings for her, but she was already interested in Peter. As such, the two decide to stay friends.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Gen towards Peter, in spite of the fact that she broke up with him. Peter takes advantage of this for his Operation: Jealousy plan with Lara Jean.
  • Commitment Issues: Lara Jean is scared of actually fulfilling a romantic relationship because the person she opens her heart up to could also leave. It's theorised as being the reason she subconsciously only falls for guys she knows she can't have (her sister's boyfriend, an already taken boy, a gay guy, etc). That way she doesn't have to actually make a genuine effort to pursue them and can simply live in her own fantasy.
  • Cool Loser: Lara Jean is near the bottom of the food chain and doesn't have many friends despite being attractive, socially adept, and fashionable. This is attributed to her shyness.
  • Denser and Wackier: The movie leans a bit more into physical comedy than the book, suiting the visual format. For instance, Lara Jean in the film faints the moment she realizes Peter's received her letter, whether as in the book she merely feels like she wants to faint, and even points out how fainting would be just like being in a movie.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: When Lara Jean and Peter are making out in the hot tub the scene cuts to them walking back to their respective rooms while holding hands. However, it's later revealed that they didn't have sex, only made out. It's what makes their alleged sex tape so horrible for Lara Jean, as it definitely looks like they did otherwise and she gets ragged on for seemingly doing such a private thing in public.
  • Disappeared Dad: The father of Peter and Owen is divorced from their mother and remarried with another child, but rarely speaks to them.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Gen eventually reveals to Lara Jean that she ended their friendship, bullied her for years (and posted her and Peter's "sex tape" online) simply because she kissed Peter during a game of Spin the Bottle back in middle school. She was in Tranquil Fury about it, even though Lara Jean had asked to re-spin the bottle because she knew how Gen felt about Peter (and Gen nudged her a bit). However, Peter firmly insisted on kissing her, making a pressured Lara Jean give him a quick peck. Lara Jean astutely calls her a psycho for being that upset over it, while Gen insists what she did was supposedly a huge betrayal.
  • Double Standard: Why Lara Jean is the one freaking out about her and Peter's "sex" tape. Nobody cares if he bangs a pretty girl in a hot tub, but for the girl, this is enough to ruin her life.
    Lara Jean: It's never worse for the guy.
  • Dumb Jock: Discussed. Mentioned by Josh when he says jocks like Peter are slow learners.
  • Fake Relationship: Peter and Lara Jean agree to make the whole school think they're dating — Lara Jean so she can avoid having the feelings talk with Josh, and Peter to get back at Gen for dumping him.
  • The Film of the Book: Based on the novel of the same name by Jenny Han, with some elements from its sequel.
  • Former Friend of Alpha Bitch: Lara Jean and Gen were friends in middle school, but had a falling out. Gen went on to be a bitchy popular girl who singles out Lara Jean for bullying.
  • Gay Best Friend: Lucas is gay and later becomes another close friend of Lara Jean's.
  • Gayngst: Downplayed. Lucas is out to most of the students and his mother (with his father "kinda knowing"), but still asks Lara Jean to not speak about it too much, both explaining that it's because of "high school".
  • Good Parents: Despite being an implied Bumbling Dad, Dr. Covey has shown to be a caring and loving father to his daughters. He even gives Lara Jean condoms if she decides to have sex because he knows (and accepts) that she's going to make her own life choices and wishes for her to be safe if she does. (He also gently tells her that he trusts her not to do anything to simply make a guy like her.) Although doing so greatly embarrasses Lara Jean for the obvious reasons.
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: Lara Jean didn't realize her feelings for Josh until he started dating Margot.
  • Hidden Depths: When Lara Jean confronts Gen in the bathroom over supposedly sending out a video and picture of her "sex tape" (which Gen denies), Gen tells Lara Jean that she isn't as tough as she projects and Peter isn't as confident as he seems.
  • High School: The characters are in high school, and much of the plot is age-appropriate drama.
  • Hypocrite: Gen becomes jealous at Lara Jean for "dating" Peter despite the fact that she broke up with him first.
  • Informed Ability: Lara Jean's being academically good pops up a few time over the course of the film, but it's not really demonstrated.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: It's implied that Josh came to reciprocate Lara Jean's feelings, but doesn't pressure her into it. Instead, he encourages her to go and talk to Peter because he realizes he's simply too late for his chance with her now.
  • Karma Houdini: Gen posted the "sex tape" of Lara Jean and Peter. However, she never faces the consequences for this and Peter even keeps her involvement a secret (until the sequel that is).
  • The Lost Lenore: The mother of the Covey daughters was this to their father, as her death was (and still is) quite hard for him to deal with. He makes sure the girls remember her, including keeping their Korean heritage an active part of their lives as it was important to their mother (something that continues into the sequel).
  • Left Hanging: Averted. While the book has a fairly open ending, the film makes the beginning of the second book into its own closing scene, making the movie more self-contained.
  • Lovable Jock: Peter is a popular lacrosse player who is generally very sweet and kind, and gets along well with basically everyone. In fact, most of the jocks in his friendship group seem quite nice.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Lara Jean finds that her feelings for Josh, her older sister's boyfriend, are resurfacing after Margot and Josh break up. She decides to fake date Peter to avoid those feelings, while Peter agrees to this so he can make his ex-girlfriend Gen jealous. But during this, Peter starts developing feelings for Lara Jean and Lara Jean becomes confused about how she feels for Peter. To make matters more complicated, Josh admits that he now likes Lara Jean.
  • Love Doodles: Love doodles (pictures of hearts, love letters, lovey-dovey smiley faces and boys' names written in cursive) are used for one poster of the movie. Appropriate for a movie about a girl who stores her secret letters to her crushes which she never sent.
  • Meadow Run: Lara Jean fantasizes about a romantic meetup with Josh in a field of green grain. They are dressed in historical clothes and slowly walk towards each other. In the end, she and Peter kiss on the green lacrosse field.
  • Missing Mom: Lara Jean's mother died when she and her sisters were still young. While she and Margot remember her fairly well, Kitty was still a baby when she died and has no memory of her.
  • Mixed Race: Lara Jean and her sisters' mother was Korean, their father white.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer gives the impression that there are five suitors corresponding to the five letters and Lara Jean engages in wacky hijinks to avoid them. In truth, the story leans more on the romance than the comedy, centering around Lara Jean and two of the letter receivers. The third is quickly rendered non-suitable and the last two never show up at all. Until one arrives with the letter in hand in the Stinger.
  • Nice Shoes: Lara Jean’s vintage boots from Etsy. Chris defends them to Gen who insulted them, stating that they’re amazing. Peter later compliments them and said that he couldn’t say anything about it as he was dating Gen at the time.
  • The One Guy: Dr. Covey since he's the father of three girls.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Peter proposes the fake dating because he wants to make Gen jealous. It goes a little too well.
  • Opinion Override: Played With. When watching Sixteen Candles with Lara Jean and Kitty, Peter finds it surprising that they love the film even though it features the well-known racist stereotype character Long Duk Dong. Lara Jean and Kitty agree that it's racist, but ignore his character because they love watching Jake Ryan.
  • Overprotective Dad: Downplayed with Dr. Covey. He does order Peter to keep his hands to himself while on his date with Lara Jean, but does so in a playful manner. And when she goes on the annual school trip, he gives her a number of condoms in case she does decide to have sex and will be safe.
  • Paper Destruction of Anger:
    • Lara Jean and Peter have a contract for their Fake Relationship. She tears the contract in small pieces and crumples it when she's angry with him.
    • Lara Jean's best friend Christine tears down and crumples a printed screen grab of Lara Jean and Peter' sex video that someone put on Lara Jean's locker. (They did not actually have sex, they just made out in a hot tub.)
  • Product Placement:
    • Lara Jean and her family use Apple phones and laptops.
    • In one early Flashback scene when young Lara Jean asks young Josh to choose between drinking only water or drinking everything but with a drop of pee, Josh chooses the latter because he "can't give up Mountain Dew" with a bottle sitting beside him.
    • Chris pointedly craves Subway sandwiches. There's also a scene when Lara Jean and Chris eat Subway sandwiches under the bleacher.
    • There is a wide shot of the family car showing the Subaru logo.
    • Lara and Kitty are shown drinking Yakult Probiotic Drink. Later in the film Peter drives to a Korean grocery store to buy a whole set of them.
  • Race Lift: Averted. Jenny Han specifically went to Netflix to adapt her book because everybody else wanted to cast a white actress to play Lara Jean.
  • Romantic Fake–Real Turn: It doesn't take long for Peter and Lara Jean to develop real feelings for each other over the course of their fake relationship.
  • Second Love: Lara Jean and Peter are this for each other. Peter is the second boy she wrote her secret letter for, while Peter had his first serious relationship with Gen before breaking up and fake-dating Lara Jean.
  • Shipper on Deck: A number of people ship Lara Jean and Peter together — Chris, Kitty, Dr. Covey, and Lucas.
  • Sibling Triangle: Lara Jean nurses a crush on Josh, her older sister's boyfriend.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Lara Jean's crushes include the reliable Josh and the Lovable Jock, Peter.
  • Slut-Shaming: Discussed. When Lara Jean's "sex tape" with Peter gets out, she is understandably fearful of this given the Double Standard of women being scrutinized for having sex while men are simply applauded for it.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: The college guy Gen dumped Peter for is never shown but is the reason behind the Operation: Jealousy plan Peter makes with Lara Jean.
  • Sorry, I'm Gay: Lucas, Lara Jean's homecoming crush, tries to let her down gently by telling her he's gay. She's long been over him, though.
  • Their First Time: Discussed. Lara Jean narrates that on the school's annual ski trip, many couples lose their virginity.
  • Third-Act Misunderstanding: After the ski trip, Gen insinuates that Peter went to her room following his encounter with Lara Jean and makes it out as though they hooked up. Lara Jean jumps to the conclusion that Peter isn't over Gen despite his claims saying otherwise and ends their fake relationship. The real reason Peter went to Gen's room was because he wanted to cut any remaining romantic ties between them as he was finally sure Lara Jean was the only girl he wanted.
  • Twofer Token Minority:
    • The only Asian characters in the film are the three Covey sisters.
    • The only gay character, Lucas, is also black.
  • Villains Never Lie: See Third-Act Misunderstanding. Lara Jean refuses to give Peter a chance to explain why he went to Gen's room and ends it with him. However, she should know Gen well enough to realize that she would lie about it just to provoke her and mess with her relationship.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Inevitable given the Romantic Fake–Real Turn; Lara Jean starts wondering if anything about her relationship with Peter is real.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Lara Jean has written five love letters. Three are sent to boys at her high school, all of whom confront (or attempt to confront) her about them. A fourth is returned to sender from the camp. The fifth is completely forgotten... until the end of the movie, when its recipient arrives at Lara Jean's door.


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