From Page to Screen: To All the Boys I've Loved Before

Book Vs. Movie: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2019) (SPOILERS!)

Posted September 22, 2021 by Amber in Bookish Things / 0 Comments

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The film adaptation of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is perfectly fine.  I know this was a well-loved film – the community blew up with enthusiasm after its release – so please don’t take any of this comparison review as bashing the film.  I genuinely believe it was perfectly fine as it was.

But you know us readers.

We love to compare things to the books, and often, adaptations just don’t hold up.

On it’s own, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is adorable.  It’s a sweet teen chick flick and in that way, I loved it.  Lana Condor and Noah Centineo have awesome chemistry.  In fact, before Peter Kavinsky entered the film, my hopes were swiftly plummeting.  Lara Jean and Peter made the film as good as it was, and that was the most essential piece of the puzzle.

The thing that bothered me the most about this adaptation was the lack of character depth.  This feature was my favorite part of the book because it elevated To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before from a cliche romance story to something well-rounded and sweet.  It was easy to get invested in the relationship because you got to know both Lara Jean and Peter’s individual and combined histories slowly.  Additionally, Jen’s sharp presence in the film didn’t do her justice and while I loved the actress that played Chris and thought she was wonderful… Chris and Lara Jean definitely did not get enough screen time together.

But the biggest loss was Josh.

Josh was there.  But you never really got to care about Josh because movie!Josh was 100% angst.  The love triangle still existed to some extent in the film, but it was a lot weaker than in the book.  The Lara Jean/Peter ship was strong, to the point where I sort of wonder why the love story with Josh wasn’t dropped altogether.  Granted, I don’t know what is to come in this series so maybe it becomes important, but the film crush for Josh was weak, and it was incredibly difficult to root for Josh because he was so unlikable.

There were a lot of minor changes and subplots that were barely touched from the book.  The sisters’ relationships were very simplified for the movie and they almost never fought – another thing I liked from the books because they felt real.  While Kitty was still delightful, I felt that she and Margot both were not adapted as fully as they could have been.  Another loss in translation n the character front.

Some scenes were different – no car accident, for example – and some of the setting pieces were twisted.  Scenes with Josh were sacrificed for scenes with Peter.  Lucas had a bigger part… which I actually liked.  All of these things will agitated fans of the book.

But I have to be honest.  These are all nitpicks from a book fan.  The movie was really cute.

Is it a perfect adaptation?  No, absolutely not.  But unlike so many of the ones I’ve reviewed on here, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a decent standalone film.  It’s sweet and cute and a little complicated.  The book is certainly better, but the movie is decent too and I can very much see why so many people liked it.

Honestly, you have to give it a try just for Centineo and Condor’s chemistry.  There’s not a lot of romcoms being made these days and there are moments in the film that will make your heart flutter.

When you’re done, go read the book.  Because the book is ever better.

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Did you like the book or movie better?  Do you wish Josh was in the film more or do you like the changes that were made?  Let me know in the comments!

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