“There’s a Korean word my grandma taught me. It’s called jung. It’s the connection between two people that can’t be severed, even when love turns to hate. You still have those old feelings for them; you can’t ever completely shake them loose of you; you will always have tenderness in your heart for them.”-To All the Boys: P.S I Still Love You
Release Date: February 12th, 2020. Dir: Michael Fimognari
Google Summary: As her relationship with Peter continues to grow, Lara Jean reunites with another recipient of one of her old love letters.
Original Rating: 8/10
Short Explanation: Though it’s doesn’t have the same charm as the first one, I find that P.S I Still Love You is a cute coming of age story with some faces that don’t always get the representation they deserve.
Long Explanation: Unlike the first one, I found that I didn’t have to watch this movie several times for it to keep my attention, although I do feel like it was more hype than anything else. Lana Candor continues to have her fresh-faced innocence, though I feel like she’s more annoying in this movie than she was in the last (though that just might be my distaste for rom-com heroines in general) and acts continually well. Noah Centineo, who has basically become the new face for Netflix, held his own as Peter Kavinsky which I appreciated.
I do have to say that I really dislike Lara Jean and Peter as a couple. While the first half of their story was enticing, I found that at the beginning they weren’t compatible. Lara Jean almost expects too much out of him and while I understand that their relationship comes from a letter that is the epitome of high expectations, I almost wonder which version of Peter she loves. This happens to be the central struggle of the entire story. Lara Jean is unsure if she loves Peter or another boy, named John Ambrose who appears later on.
At the beginning, the struggles between Lara Jean and Peter seem to be childish but it all boils down to the insecurity that Lara Jean feels at Peter’s relationship with her former friend, Gen. Later, we learn that this insecurity did not come from Peter but rather from her own unfinished business with her friend (which, for the record, is a poor attempt to tie up this character relationship nicely.). When John Ambrose appears on the scene, the viewer is almost taken aback at how “perfect” he is. I would say that in reality, I think his allure is that he’s not Peter. Lara Jean is upset with Peter for reasons detailed above, but when she sees John Ambrose, she sees a greener lawn and that’s what she wants. After that, it’s a matter of self-sabotaging her relationship because she thinks she knows what she wants.
The truth that P.S I Still Love You exposes is that as a teenager, when you discover your first love, you don’t really know what you want. Lara Jean struggles to discern her own feelings, so why bring another boy into it? That removes some of the allure for Lara Jean and the story for me. This also being said, I can’t say that I don’t feel for her. This is her first relationship and she doesn’t know how to handle herself, something she repeats throughout the movie, and she wants nothing more than to feel like she’s doing everything right. This is something I think makes her a little more human than the typical rom-com heroine.
Peter Kavinsky is a whole other story. He actually is a really decent guy, which I think is some of the fantastical allure of him. But, I see him as a very real person. He’s not perfect and he also didn’t know what he wanted. Some revelations are made (in an attempt to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, I won’t divulge) that might make Peter seem like a criminal and since this story is told in Lara Jean’s perspective, it makes Peter look awful. I see these as Peter being human. What teenage boy is perfect at 17? Just because Peter is a fictional character doesn’t mean that he has to be perfect. He holds more realistic form for me than Lara Jean but that might also be because I love a redemption arc (though I wonder if it should be for him or for her?).
The last character I want to discuss is John Ambrose. Aside from being perfect, I want to argue that his character doesn’t exist. A perfect person exists only in individual cases. John and Lara Jean would never have been good together because she remembers the part of him that she wrote the letter to, not the version that he is. She sees him through rose-colored glasses and that’s why she believes he’s better than Peter. But, a kiss solves everything (supposedly).
So, while I would’ve said that I came to dislike Lara Jean and Peter at the beginning of the movie, it seems that I would say that I dislike Lara Jean at the beginning of the movie. Peter was always the same, willing to do anything for Lara Jean but also not willing to abandon a friend. Lara Jean was not willing to do anything for Peter, but willing to do anything for the imagined version of Peter. She loved the version of Peter that waited for her in the hot tub, but that Peter didn’t exist and she found that she couldn’t love the actual human. At the end, she realized it wasn’t the past that she couldn’t love, it was the feeling of inferiority that came with the broken bond between her and Gen.
Finally, I think this movie is adorable. I don’t quite agree with other critics saying that some of the characters that added to the plot in the last movie were missing at the cost of the watchability of the movie. I truly think that movie is relatively strong in characters that move the plot. Any other characters would’ve just been there for nostalgia’s sake and would’ve overcrowded the movie. I do have to say that the movie dragged in places and it was hard to pay attention, but that comes with any rom-com. I do agree that things weren’t wrapped up well enough. John’s character just simply disappears and Gen and Lara Jean don’t really get any chance to move past the scene in the treehouse. The only two characters who get any closure are the two characters that everyone knew would get closure.
Afterthought Rating: 5.5/10
Overall conclusion: I definitely feel like this movie was worth the watch, even if it’s just for the hype of following the representation of an Asian teenager which I really appreciated (even if I didn’t talk about it much). I love the fact that the characterization is pretty constant for the two main characters throughout the two movies and there were some absolutely spectacular shots that made your heart break right alongside the characters’. That being said, the movie’s plot itself was dull and the charming characters were not enough to take away from the movie’s poor wrap-up.