Susan Johnson’s 2018 adaptation of the bestselling novel To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before took teenage romcom fantasies of the past decades and freshened them up for an emotionally resonant story, making it a hit among audiences. Both genuine and genuinely funny, the film’s lovestruck heroes made it easy to look forward a second part.
This time around, Michael Fimognari, cinematographer responsible for shooting horrors Doctor Sleep and Oculus as well as both of the To All The Boys films took the post as a director. Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) are now officially a real couple and even though they’re clearly in love with each other, Lara’s insecure about her position as a girlfriend. Throughout the film, she voices her concerns multiple times to those around her; mostly without an answer. Her attention then shifts to a childhood friend and recipient of one of her pivotal love letters, John Ambrose McClaren (Jordan Fisher), who re-enters her life when they bump into each other during volunteering work at a retirement home.
P.S. I Still Love You takes its time with introducing John Ambrose, not immediately making him a necessary secondary love interest, but rather letting a friendship between him and Lara blossom naturally, in a way so that the audience sees him more as his own character. The charming breath of fresh air that’s Jordan Fisher helps and his performance is among the better ones in the film, often scene stealing. He’s a striking counterexample to the fan-favourite ex-fake boyfriend Peter Kavinsky, being the academically successful selfless student contrasting the larger-than-life athletic persona of Kavinsky in a few scenes where they interact.
The anchor of the story is once again Lara Jean, who’s as much of the idealised high school sweetheart as before. Condor yet again brings her charms to the character, making her easily relatable throughout all of her ups and downs, which helps greatly considering that the audience is supposed to be in a similar moral grey area as she is. That’s why any signs of romantic attraction between her and John Ambrose don’t start coming up until much later in the film.
Speaking of romance, nothing hurts the film more than splitting its central couple, Kavinsky and Covey, for large chunks at a time as neither can quite hold their own. At least Condor has Fisher in her scenes, who carries both the dramatic and the comedic tones better than the two mains. Noah Centineo, on the other hand, becomes almost unbearable to watch throughout the course of the film, with facial quirks reminiscent of the High School Musical era in all the worst ways. During P.S. I Still Love You their story, as a couple, falls into some of the most generic high school stereotypes, losing almost all of the chemistry that made them so appealing in the first place. It’s surprising how easily one can find themselves no longer caring about them anymore.
Given that majority of the runtime is spend with the one new character, Lara Jean’s relationship isn’t the only part with reduced screen time and the already existing supporting cast gets pushed behind. Lara Jean’s best friend Christine (Madeleine Arthur) and younger sister Kitty (Anna Cathcart) still make for some of the most hilarious laugh out loud moments, even if there aren’t as many of them. P.S. I Still Love You acknowledges the heritage of its Korean-American heroine, dedicating a scene in the first act to the Covey’s celebration of Korean New Year among their extended family. It’s a tender moment, which also serves as an opportunity to catch up on the story for anyone who doesn’t recall the first one in an entertaining way. Shame that there aren’t more peppered throughout the runtime. The film also introduces a subplot with Lara’s father, but it is so brief one can only hope it will get more attention in the already shot third part of the To All The Boys series.
To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You is a weaker, yet entertaining film containing most of what made the original so endearing in the first place and it’s newest addition, by the name of Jordan Fisher, is undoubtedly the highlight, almost making it worth the watch. However, allowing a needless amount of predictable sequences and falling into clichés, the place where the film really fails is its central romance.