GRAPHIC BY DENISE THUONG
By ANA-SOFIA MUÑOZ
To all the teen rom-coms I’ve loved before…this one hardly stands out.
On Feb. 12, Netflix released the teen romance film To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, the sequel to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.
In the first film, high schooler Lara Jean Covey’s (Lana Condor) life changes after her five secret love letters are accidentally mailed to their recipients. Within this dynamic follow-up film, Lara Jean faces an entirely new set of problems when an old flame re-enters her life, creating a rift in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter Kavinsky, played by Noah Centineo.
Unfortunately, despite the film’s efforts, it ultimately falls short in furthering the franchise’s storyline and does little to rekindle the chemistry that had audiences swooning in the first movie.
From the start of the rom-com, Peter and Lara Jean’s interactions come across as more awkward than heartwarming. While this may serve to foreshadow tensions that arise later in the film, even the moments intended to be heartfelt feel forced and uncomfortable.
Further, these scenes appear to come from a combination of both the actors’ portrayal of their roles and poorly illustrated romantic dialogue. In fact, many romantic scenes between Peter and Lara Jean appeared orchestrated and unnatural, leaving audiences feeling underwhelmed by the minimal sparks between the two leads.
In addition to the lackluster gentle romance of the two protagonists, the entire plot of the sequel simply appears to go in circles. To elaborate, the conflicts that develop between Peter and Lara Jean are never directly addressed. The only resolution is a brief reconciliation scene that still leaves questions of the characters’ previous choices—and ultimately, their morality and standing in their relationship—unanswered.
Moreover, there was very little character development in the two leads throughout the movie. Neither Peter nor Lara Jean grew in any way from the various difficulties they each faced in their relationship. By the end of the movie, things between them returned to square one, with no significant changes to help strengthen or shape their relationship. Overall, the ending of the film felt rushed and unfulfilling, with no satisfactory conclusion.
In spite of the film’s shortcomings, there were still a few notable aspects that definitely made the audience swoon in various ways.
Much like in the first installment, the cinematography in the film is extremely well-executed. The use of Wes Anderson-style color palettes and uniquely shot scenes are eye-catching and served to make the film very aesthetically pleasing. Additionally, the soft pastels and bright spring colors the director chooses to focus on expertly created an atmosphere that radiates a romantic aura. As a whole, the outstanding cinematography paired with the soundtrack, which is comprised of synth-pop and lively indie tracks, resulted in a perfectly crafted setting for a teen romance film.
In an unexpected turn of events, one of the several notable features of the movie was the new main character in the franchise. John Ambrose McClaren, played by Jordan Fisher, effortlessly charms his way into viewers’ hearts.
Fisher’s performance absolutely steals the spotlight, with his character John Ambrose’s wit and charisma posing a major threat to Peter. Fisher’s acting ultimately leads audiences to root for John Ambrose as the underdog, as opposed to Peter. Overall, Fisher’s skills as an actor truly shine in this film and arguably make the movie worth the watch despite its drawbacks.
In the end, the verdict on To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You will likely remain open-ended as fans debate over the movie. Although it is not a perfect film, if you are looking for a sweet rom-com to make you feel lonely this Valentine’s weekend, this sequel is still a potential contender—even if it does not quite live up to the audience’s expectations.