Following the smash success of the 2018 Netflix original film “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,” its sequel, “To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You,” had big shoes to fill.
The sequel, released on Feb. 12, follows Lara Jean Covey as she and her flame from the first film, Peter Kavinsky, explore their new relationship. The movie introduces a new character, John Ambrose McClaren, played by Jordan Fisher, who made a surprise appearance at the end of the first film.
The crux of the film is Lara Jean’s internal conflict as she navigates the growing pains of her first relationship and her rising feelings for John Ambrose, whom she had a crush on in middle school.
The chemistry between Lara Jean and Peter, played by Lana Condor and the internet’s boyfriend Noah Centineo, picks up right where the first film ended, which lends believability to the pairing.At the same time, the blooming relationship between Lara Jean and John Ambrose is equally as sweet, making the audience question who she will ultimately end up with.
Despite having a new director at the helm — Susan Johnson passed the torch to director Michael Fimognari — “To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” has the same general aesthetic. Wide camera angles with centered framing of characters and pans over the characters’ home city of Portland, Oregon, follow the same vein of shooting as the first film. Lara Jean’s Pinterest-perfect outfits stay true to the original, and the sequel follows the same dreamy lighting and pastel color palette.
For the most part, the soundtrack is the perfect addition to the film. Glitzy bops from Blackpink, Cyn and Marina encapsulate the feel of a flighty flirtationship of high school love. Tracks like Illenium’s “Crashing,” Cayetana’s cover of New Order’s “Age of Consent” and Ashe’s “Moral of the Story” follow the feeling of the first film’s soundtrack and make the two blend together perfectly, as if they’re episodes of a show rather than full-length movies.
As far as content goes, “To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” is an accurate representation of the expectations, both physical and emotional, in high school relationships. Lara Jean has reservations about doing the deed with Peter, as he’s had experience in previous relationships. Their conversations about physical boundaries are realistic and don’t feel forced.
As the couple continues their relationship, the roadblocks they face — whether that’s personal insecurities, miscommunications and memories of former crushes — feel rooted in reality and similarly to what one would find in a high school relationship.
One poignant moment at the end of the film showcases Lara Jean’s decision to express her feelings, even if it means she might be rejected. After questioning, “What if he doesn’t want me?” the wise crone at the retirement home Lara Jean volunteers at says to her, “Then that’ll hurt like hell.” Lara Jean pauses, and a shocked expression on her face dissolves into calm resolution. The choice she eventually makes may hurt her, but she realizes the potential payout if she takes the risk. This wisdom is something couples in their 20s and 30s can take to heart, as there will be hurt and risk in every relationship.
While the final coupling feels inevitable, the ending seemed a bit unfair to one specific character, who gained his own character arc in his sincerely sweet, caring personality toward Lara Jean. The official Netflix Instagram account announced a third film in the franchise, “To All The Boys: Always and Forever, Lara Jean,” so hopefully there will be some redemption for this character.
While “To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” doesn’t feel as addicting a watch as the first film, it’s a satisfying follow-up to the original, showing the main characters as they grow and mature. The film ends with no real loose ends to be resolved in a third movie, but one can hope the last film in the franchise will wrap everything up and give its characters a fulfilling final chapter.