After the success of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before when it was released in 2018, it was unsurprising that Netflix announced a sequel would soon be on the cards. However, cut to the 12th February 2020 and I couldn’t help but feel disappointed by To All the Boys: PS I Still Love You.
The films were originally based on a book series of the same name by Jenny Han and as a lover of these books I had extremely high hopes for the film adaptations. The first film in the series was great; despite its PG rating it was still humorous and adorable without being too cringey, enabling it to draw in an older audience. However, the second film fell short for me.
This film seemed especially aimed at a younger audience – young teens rather than the young adults that were also entertained by the first film. It featured scenes such as Lara Jean, the film’s protagonist, accidentally knocking beads/sweets over and slipping over them which I did not find comedic as was intended but awkward to watch. There were also unusual scenes such as the opening dance and lip-syncing towards the end of the film which did not seem to have a purpose within the film’s narrative, instead breaking it up and causing a sense of disconnect for the viewer. That being said, I did enjoy the links to the first film in terms of style. Overhead drone driving shots featured in both and the use of the school banners to give information to the audience added little details to the film that helped the series’ continuity, allowing it to mesh together as a cohesive story.
One of the major triumphs of this film series is its characterisation. Lana Condor and Noah Centineo were perfectly cast as Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky, quickly becoming sensations online – especially Centineo. I enjoyed the individuality that particularly Lara Jean is given in the film as she has arguably less mainstream or ‘trendy’ hobbies in her love of baking and crafts as well as having a unique sense of style. Lana Condor’s performance in this film continued well from the first, she portrayed the character with an innocence and insecurity that seemed to me to recreate what is for many an accurate experience of a first relationship. However, despite the charismatic character of Peter Kavinsky still coming through in this film, I felt some of the acting seemed a little forced, particularly in dialogue such as ‘that was my boy’. This may be a typical thing for a schoolboy to say yet to me it just felt awkward and unnatural. Nevertheless, there was still a high level of chemistry between the two actors and the relationship we all fell in love with in the first film is still well portrayed in the second.
The addition of Jordan Fisher as John Ambrose McClaren was also a good choice. He, like Lara Jean, was a shy and quirky character, however I think there was a lack of chemistry between him and Condor. They created a perfect friendship-relationship but the creation of a love triangle between the three characters felt rushed and was never fully developed. I did, however, enjoy the budding relationship formed between Chris, played by Madeleine Arthur and Trevor played by Riverdale’s Ross Butler.
Despite the problems I have with this film there were moments that I found really enjoyable. The representation of Korean culture is something that I really appreciated and am looking forward to seeing more of in the third film of the series in which the characters take a trip to Korea. Similarly, I think the portrayal of the insecurities of a first relationship are very realistic especially with the inclusion of a character who is not ready for a sexual relationship. It was a refreshing change to see a film in which this fact was not treated as unusual despite them being in a serious relationship.
Overall, though definitely not as good as the first film in the series, this film was not terrible but lacked depth and seemed to be predominantly for a younger audience. I will be watching the final film in the series when it is released but sadly this second film will not be one I want to watch over and over.
Rating: 2 stars
– Amie Greenhalgh
Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons