Lana Condor and Noah Centineo return for To All The Boys I Loved Before – and it’s well worth your time.
It’s been two years since Netflix’s To All The Boys I Loved Before unexpectedly stole many people’s hearts with its charming characters, colourful production design and messages about the importance of truth, family and learning to love yourself. While it clearly took inspiration from classic romcoms of the 80s and 90s, Susan Johnson’s film was also a breath of fresh air, receiving praise for its honest storytelling, wit, individual visual style and diverse cast.
The sickly sweet and overly cheesy overtones which often dominate the genre were nowhere to be found, and in its place was a romance we could not only believe in, but engage and connect with too.
Thankfully sequel To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You follows suit, and it is great to see the wonderful Lara Jean (Lana Condor) and Peter (Noah Centineo) back on our screens. This time round Michael Fimognari is in the director’s chair, for his feature-length directorial debut, and he confidently executes the bold visual style which helped define the first film. As soon as we step into Lara Jean’s bright and beautiful bedroom in the opening scenes, which splashes the screen with colour, it is immediately comforting, and you know the sequel is in safe hands.
It’s a film prettier than any Pinterest board you have ever seen.
Taking the story in a more serious direction, it isn’t exactly happily ever after for Lara Jean and Peter, as their relationship becomes tainted by insecurity and doubt. Matters only get worse for the couple when John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher) comes back into Lara Jean’s life, another recipient of her love letters. Thus a love triangle is set up, but here lies the main flaw of the movie as John Ambrose never seriously threatens Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship. While the movie clearly wanted Fisher’s character to be a dreamy heartthrob and the only one capable of stealing Lara Jean away from Peter, he instead is instantly forgettable and will not leave any hearts fluttering.
Not that this is Fisher’s fault as any scene which doesn’t feature Lara Jean either interacting with Peter or her family, who once again are a highlight, lacks energy.
While the film decides not to spend any time fleshing out the supporting characters like John Ambrose, we do see new sides to both Lara Jean and Peter, who are really given the chance to grow and develop in the sequel. Centineo is excellent as Peter and will continue to make the internet swoon despite showcasing more of his character’s flaws. In fact, this makes us love him even more. But the real star remains to be Condor as Lara Jean, and it is great to see her both thriving and learning again.
A relatable protagonist, it’s rewarding to see how the movie navigates Lara Jean’s first relationship, showing that while it is exciting, it is also an emotionally turbulent time. She learns to address her insecurities, growing from scene to scene, but most importantly it’s emphasised that the journey is not an easy ride. So while the sequel does lack the spark of the first film, it is just as charming with a rewardingly mature streak.
It really is great to be back in Lara Jean’s world, and we look forward to our next adventure together in the upcoming third and final instalment. P.S. To All The Boys and Lara Jean, we still love you…
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