There’s nothing quite like first love. Except for maybe first love, once the honeymoon phase is over and the reality of maintaining a relationship hits. How do you make it from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before to P.S. I Still Love You?
To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You is the highly anticipated sequel to the 2018 Netflix smash hit, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. The film marks the second in a trilogy, adapting New York Times bestselling teen romance novels by Jenny Han. The third and final film, To All the Boys: Always and Forever, Lara Jean, is already in production.
Beloved cast favorites Lana Condor and Noah Centineo return to star and are joined by John Corbett, Emilija Baranac, and other familiar faces like the incomparable Holland Taylor and Jordan Fisher. The film is helmed by director Michael Fimognari and picks up where the first film left off, with Lara Jean (Condor) and Peter (Centineo) taking their relationship from pretend to the real deal. Lara Jean is new to this whole girlfriend thing and just as she’s beginning to sort through her own insecurities and her complicated relationship, another recipient of one of her infamous love letters enters the picture.
The film offers all that you could ever want out of an ooey-gooey sweet teen romance. Our heroine, Lara Jean, is sweet, vulnerable, and relatable. The film is refreshingly light and funny, while sincerely speaking to young people – especially young women… and us tired adults that remember what it’s like to have a young and hopeful heart. What it lacks in maturity and sophistication, it makes up for in just being real. Navigating romance as a young person is challenging, especially when it’s your first attempt. P.S. I Still Love You is well-intentioned and accessible, making it an excellent choice for younger viewers.
That being said, one area where the film falters is in its “missed opportunities.” P.S. I Still Love You attempts to cover a lot of ground. The film tackles divorce and finding love after loss, complicated love-hate relationships, and, most importantly, topics of consent and burgeoning sexuality. Every single one of these themes is vitally important and the film would be more than competent in unpacking them. Unfortunately, there just doesn’t seem to be enough runtime to adequately cover these topics.
Instead, these larger teaching moments are reduced to filler and are sprinkled across the film without being thoroughly explored. Is it a detriment to the plot? No, aside from being a minor pacing issue. Is it a missed opportunity to offer much-needed perspective to a younger viewing audience? Yes.
However, I think it is significant to note that what is said in P.S. I Still Love You is infinitely more important than every topic that was glossed over. The film leaves its viewers with the very mature message that even the greatest love stories of all fall short of a fairytale romance. Falling in love is not a happy ending. A relationship, a real relationship built on love and mutual respect, takes work. Constant work. Hard work. Challenging and frustrating work. For all the puffery of a teen romance, P.S. I Still Love You understands what’s real and shows that (gently) to its viewers.
Beyond the truths of what a mature relationship is supposed to be, the film drives home a strong conviction on loving oneself. Lara Jean is ruled by her own insecurities, in this sequel. How can she be expected to navigate the terrain of a new romantic partnership, when she hardly knows herself? P.S. I Still Love You adopts a RuPaul-esque philosophy that acknowledges that in order to love somebody else, one must understand their needs and love and honor themselves. That is the best possible message that can be wrapped into a love story, for any age.
To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You is a sequel that is sure to succeed. Sweet and sincere, with so much heart, it is a fantastic watch and comes warmly recommended by this critic.
To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You arrives exclusively on Netflix on February 12, 2020.
Caitlin is a sweater enthusiast, film critic, and lean, mean writing machine based in Austin, TX. Her love of film began with being shown Rosemary’s Baby at a particularly impressionable age and she’s been hooked ever since. She loves a good bourbon and hates people who talk in movies. Caitlin has been writing since 2014 and you can find her work on Film Inquiry, The Financial Diet, Nightmarish Conjurings, and many others.