It has been two years since Lara Jean Covey entered our lives in Netflix’s To All the Boys I Loved Before and she’s back, right in time for Valentine’s Day, with To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You. These movies were never meant to be thought provoking or life changing, but they are a beautiful and delicate story about a girl navigating the joy and heartbreak of falling in love.
Noah Cintenio and Lana Condor. CREDIT: Netflix
Just when Lara Jean is getting comfortable in her blossoming relationship Peter Kavinsky, she receives a letter from John Ambrose McClaren — an erstwhile crush and recipient of one of her love letters — just in time for the pair to reunite as volunteers at an assisted living facility. This reunion causes Lara Jean’s uncertainty in her relationship with Peter to form into something that she can’t quite ignore. Lara Jean is a novice when it comes to relationships and the imposter syndrome she feels as Peter’s girlfriend is palpable and nerve-wracking. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? At some point in our lives we’ve all been the subject of someone’s interest, who we definitely didn’t feel perfectly equal to.
P.S. I Still Love You is not a straightforward Valentine’s Day romance, but rather a film that explores Lara Jean’s fears of inadequacy and comparison. Throughout the film she catches herself comparing herself to Peter’s ex-girlfriend and her former friend, Gen. It was refreshing to see that the film avoided the genre-typical ploy of turning Gen into the bad person. While Lara Jean is intimidated by the experiences Gen and Peter had together, the film allows Gen to deliver the piece of information that ultimately leads Lara Jean and Peter back together.
"There's a Korean word my grandma taught me. It's called "jung". It's a connection between two people that can't be severed."
Despite being a simple ‘feel good’ Netflix film, the scene design throughout the movie is phenomenal. Throughout my first watch I noticed the space in between characters which seemed thematic. As Lara Jean and John Ambrose grow close they sit elbow-to-elbow at the piano in the center of the frame, in contrast to the way that Lara Jean and Peter stand at opposite edges of the frame at the aquarium, following their break-up. It wasn’t until Lara Jean and Gen met at the tree house that the narration provided a word for this space between people. There were other subtle design choices which stood out as well. For example the star on the side of the tree house which connected to the star decorations that Lara Jean and John Ambrose discovered for the Star Ball. The cinematography created a beautiful film full of the bright, hopefulness of youth and first love.
Jordan Fisher and Lana Condor. CREDIT: Netflix
The love triangle in P.S. I Still Love You worked well and while John Ambrose was a worthy contender for Lara Jean’s affections, she ultimately realized that Peter was the one for her. While I personally thought that she should have chosen John Ambrose, mostly in part to the fact that she and Peter had wildly different love languages, ultimately her choice felt right for the story. It was Peter and Lara Jean's love story, after all.
At the end of the day, this film shouldn’t be taken too seriously. I have seen a few critics who have unfairly nitpicked this movie for the sake of nitpicking. It’s a delightful Valentine’s Day movie that should be enjoyed with a nice glass of red wine and a carton of ice cream. While the storyline left something to be desired, the performances and scene design made it worthy of four out of five stars.
P.S. I could watch Lana Condor in anything. She is an absolute joy to watch on screen. Just prior to watching P.S. I Still Love You I learned that she almost played Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and I can't stop thinking about that.