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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."
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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. It got two sequels based on the subsequent books: To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, was released in February 2020, and To All the Boys: Always and Forever was released in February 2021.

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Tropes:

  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • The film plays down or eliminates most of Peter's bad traits in the books, where he is generally nice but can be quite jockish and vain. He also almost never curses in the film, whereas the books' Peter curses like a sailor.
    • Josh is also much nicer in the film, especially in his reaction to receiving Lara Jean’s letter. Book Josh tries to cozy up to her as a rebound from his breakup with Margot, and even forces a kiss on her, while Film Josh doesn’t do anything so selfish and is just trying to figure out what Lara Jean is doing. Once she explains to Josh how he wasn’t supposed to receive the letter and she doesn’t want to date him, he graciously accepts with no hard feelings.
    • Kitty in the book sent out Lara Jean’s letters as revenge for embarrassing her, while in the film Kitty does it thinking it will help her sister come out of her shell (and also so Kitty can get free favors from her sister’s boyfriend-to-be.)
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  • Adaptation Distillation: The plot point about Lara Jean's and Peter's "sex tape" doesn't happen until the second book, P.S., I Still Love You. Also, the original To All the Boys I've Loved Before book ends with Lara Jean resolving to write Peter a second love letter after his fight with Josh, leaving their romantic resolution hanging, while the film ends with Lara Jean giving Peter the love letter and their reconciliation, which happens in Chapter 2 of the second book.
  • Adapted Out: Ms. Rothschild, the Coveys' neighbor. She gets to appear in the sequel, however.
  • The Beard: Lara Jean strikes a fake relationship with Peter so the former can avoid having to talk with Josh and the latter can get back at Gen for dumping him.
  • 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.
  • Belated Love Epiphany: According to Josh, he never thought that he actually has feelings for Lara Jean until her love letter showed up and she began to get closer with Peter.
  • 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.
  • Bookends:
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • But Not Too Foreign: In this American story, the protagonist and her sisters are half-Korean and raised by a white single father.
  • 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.
  • Clashing Cousins: Chris and Gen. Chris is Lara Jean's quirky best friend, while Gen is one of the cool kids who antagonizes Lara Jean. Naturally, they tend to butt heads over it.
  • 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.
  • Faint in Shock: When Lara Jean learns that the secret love letters that she never intended anyone to read have all been sent out to their respective suitors, she faints in the middle of the school track.note 
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: When Josh attempts to confront Lara Jean about her love letter, Lara Jean kisses Peter so she can avoid talking with him.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Played with. The third of Lara Jean's childhood crushes, Lucas, is gay, but although she didn't know, she already moved on from him and considers him as just a friend in the present.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Love Letter Lunacy: Lara Jean wrote the love letters to the five boys she had a crush on without ever planning to send even one. She is mortified upon learning that they are sent without her consent. All of them.
  • 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.
  • Mr. Imagination: Lara Jean tends to imagine people speaking with her in her bedroom. Initially, it's just Josh, but Peter starts appearing to her as well after they begin their fake relationship.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Subverted. Margot is upset upon finding out that Lara Jean had a crush on her ex-boyfriend, but quickly forgives her upon learning that she is in hot water because of the "sex tape" with Peter and helps her take it down.
  • 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: Lucas is a blue-eyed white boy in the books and black in the film.
  • 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.
  • Setting Update: The books are explicitly set in Charlottesville, Virginia. In the films, the town where Lara Jean lives is located somewhere in the metropolitan area of Portland, Oregon.
  • 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.
  • Spin the Bottle: Back when they were in middle school, Lara Jean, Peter, and Gen participated in one of these. Peter ended up pointing his bottle at Lara Jean, who initially resisted because she knew Gen was in love with him. However, he insisted. This single event turned out to be the whole reason why Gen ended her friendship with Lara Jean and resolved to make her life miserable.
  • 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.
  • Transparent Closet: Lucas claims that the only people who are aware about his gayness are his parents and Lara Jean, but Peter is revealed to know it as well. He states that "everyone [in the school] knows it".
  • 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?: Out of the five boys Lara Jean wrote the letters to, Kenny from the summer camp is the only one not to respond or appear to her.

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