MANILA, Philippines – For all the unadulterated giddiness that To All The Boys: PS I Still Love You may afford you, there’s one scene in it that will make you want to scream at its young heroine, Lara Jean Covey. Scream, only because there’s an opportunity for her to do the Right Thing, perhaps her first official act as Peter Kavinsky’s girlfriend – but she doesn’t.
If you haven’t seen the film perhaps turn back now if you don’t want spoilers, but if you have, the scene we’re talking about is the one that happens in the basement of the old folk’s home (more like old folk’s mansion, really) where Lara Jean is volunteering, and where she meets John Ambrose (played by the irresistible Jordan Fisher), her charming childhood friend, whose smile and subtly flirtatious banter makes Lara Jean a very confused girl indeed.
In the scene, they talk about unearthing a time capsule they buried together years ago – along with their old friends. At this point, John Ambrose innocently doubles down on the flirtiness because he still has no clue that Lara Jean and Peter K are a thing – but she lets the conversation pass without communicating this very crucial bit of information, which causes a lot of awkwardness and tension in a later scene.
That whole exchange is certainly frustrating for many adults watching the film – even (perhaps especially) for Lana Condor, the actress who plays Lara Jean.
“When I first watched the movie, I wanted to scream at Lara Jean…I felt like ‘you have to...you should've…’ I was so upset with her because like ‘say something! Just tell him!’” Lana said as she and Noah Centineo, who plays Peter K, were interviewed over video by Philippine press on February 13.
“That was definitely the part of the movie where I was most frustrated with her,” Lana said, but was quick to add: “As much as I can preach good communication and being honest with yourself and with others, I do understand, as a young person, having a hard time doing that.”
This is perhaps what sets To All The Boys: PS I Still Love You apart from its beloved predecessor. While the first film was filled with the thrill of watching a staged romance turn real, the second film was filled with the question of whether two very different people can make a relationship work – and the lingering danger that maybe they just can’t.
If the first film calls to mind the giddy, rose-colored honeymoon stage of a new romance, the sequel feels more like the sobering second act of a relationship – the stage where partners learn more about each other – this time, with the rose-colored glasses taken off. Which is probably why some screaming at the TV (or laptop, or mobile) screen will happen as viewers watch this film.
All the tension that came with John Ambrose’s presence seemed to exist only so that the two lovers could grow up a little bit and learn how to communicate with each other better. It may make the story feel a bit contrived – but both Lana and Noah said it will all come together in the third and final movie in the series, which has already been filmed.
“I think Lara Jean has grown a lot in the sequel but ultimately I think it will be most fulfiulling when you watch the third movie because she really comes fully into her own in the third movie, and I think so did their relationship,” Lana said.
“My whole thing for the sequel was I wanted her to learn to use her voice better and I wanted her to take up more space and I think she's not as alone. Like she's more supported with her friends, her family, and the way she holds herself is a little bit more upright and willing to take a little bit more space,” she said.
“I think that at the end of the sequel, you can see that she's making decisions for herself and she's using her voice a bit more, but ultimately I think it'll be most satisfying to the audience and for myself in the third movie because she really does come into her own and find her voice I think,” Lana added.
At the same time, Noah said that something his character learns in the second movie will carry over to the third.
“I think Peter, as a defense mechanism, likes to sugarcoat things, likes to pretend like everything's okay even when it's not, and he really does that in the second movie, and by the end of it, he kind of realizes that you need to look at the problems that you're facing that are facing you, you can't really like deny them, but he really learns it in the third movie,” he said.
“That's definitely part of his arc in the second, but the arc will continue, I think you will see a character development in the third film that you really haven't seen yet,” he added.
It’s already glaringly obvious, but Lara Jean and Peter K still do end up together. Despite the obvious chemistry between Lara Jean and John Ambrose (including a scene we see in every other romantic movie – where the heroine descends the stairs in fancy dress as her leading man watches in awe), she still winds up in Peter’s arms, and the two profess their love for each other, almost a mirror to the finale of the first film.
Noah joked that Lara Jean chose Peter K in the end “‘Cos he's cute” (which he really is). But Lana explained further: “I think she really comes alive with Peter and I think he excites her.”
“It might not be the safest choice but for her, I think she feels really alive when she's with him and I think that there's an electricity with Peter that she doesn't have with John Ambrose,” she said. “Like John makes her feel calm, but Peter kind of disrupts that in a way that Lara Jean, she needs that in order I think to grow.”
“And also he's cute and whutevah,” she laughed, reminding viewers of another reason to watch the second film.
The sequel may or may not satisfy those who loved the first movie. At some point it feels like the story has gone every which way – but the chemistry between the two leads continues to transcend the screen – a reliable resource for kilig, for those looking for an easy fix.
After avoiding long-term jobs in favor of travelling the world, Amanda finally learned to commit when she joined Rappler in July 2017. As a lifestyle and entertainment reporter, she writes about music, culture, and the occasional showbiz drama. She also hosts Rappler Live Jam, where she sometimes tries her best not to fan-girl on camera.