Netflix Delivers Lackluster Sequel: “PS I Still Love You”

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Image provided by Netflix

Emily Chang, A&E Editor

On Feb. 12, about a year and half since the film “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” hit the internet, Netflix released its sequel “P.S I Still Love You.” Coincidentally, they chose to release it near Valentine’s Day to capitalize on all the single people waiting for a rom-com to watch. (Don’t think I don’t see you, Netflix.) After Jenny Han’s hit trilogy and a successful first movie, to say that the expectations were high for this movie is an understatement.  

The film picks up pretty much right where the first one ended: Lara Jean Covey, played by Vietnamese actress Lana Condor, and her love interest Peter Kavinsky, played by every 13-year-old girl’s crush Noah Centineo, are officially in a relationship. They hit a few speed bumps as their relationship progresses, namely Lara Jean’s new friendship with John Ambrose (a boy who also received one of her love letters) and Peter’s closeness with his ex-girlfriend Gen. As one would expect, Lara Jean has to work through her insecurity in her relationship with Peter and newfound confusion because of John Ambrose throughout the film. 

There were several elements of the movie that deserved applause. The overall cinematography of the film was superb: the vibrant blue and red color palette shone throughout the film, and, similar to the film’s predecessor, the outfits were on-point. Additionally, the way the film was shot and cut was so expertly planned that it ensured the film never got boring. The shots of Lara Jean baking, for example, displays how the filmmakers managed to make even a mundane task seem intentional and well-planned. 

Additionally, there were a few minor elements that exemplified the attention to detail that was given to this film, like the turquoise banner hanging in the school hallway periodically changed to mark milestones in the film’s plot, from “First Day of School” to “Heartbreak.” The soundtrack in the movie was also a positive element. While at times it got excessive, sometimes with only a minute in between songs, the song selection was unique and complimented the movie’s bright and, dare I say, quirky, feel. The movie might have had it’s cheesy moments, but, from the floating lantern scene to the first date scene, they tugged on exactly the right heartstrings of the given audience.

However, what goes up must come down, and, for every positive aspect of this film, that rule applies. Plot development was a key issue in the story. The original novel spends hundreds of pages carefully developing the relationship between John Ambrose and Lara Jean while also adding to the complexity by simultaneously evolving Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship. With the film, everything felt so linear and the added depth that most of the audience wanted was missing, leaving everything rushed and underdeveloped. 

There were also major moments in the plot that took a lot of time in the book to develop, such as Lara Jean and Gen finally finding closure. In the film, however, it felt like the scriptwriters had a checklist next to them and did the bare minimum to meet these plot requirements in the movie. Certain elements that were really built up in the book were hit briefly in the film and then simply moved on from. There was barely any time to actually make Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship flourish, which was why, as opposed to the primary reaction from the novel, there were people actually rooting for John Ambrose in the movie. (If you read the book and still identify as Team John, I really don’t know what to say to you.)  

Part of what made the original story so great was the fact that the readers felt like they were being taken along on the heartwrenching struggle that Lara Jean was facing; in the movie, however, it felt like there was hardly any struggle and that the characters resorted to simply giving up. In essence, the movie felt rushed; by the time one major milestone was hit, the plot was shoved along to get to the next plot requirement. 

To be fair, though, long-term series lovers will be harsher critics than most. To someone who is looking for a well-shot and wholesome film,  “PS I Still Love You” will likely be a good fit. Yet I can’t help but hold the film at higher expectations due to the excellent novel, overwhelming response from the first movie, and months of hype built up around its premiere. At the end of the day, I still encourage people, especially those who have grown attached to the franchise, to watch the film and enjoy the elements that are executed well.