Jenna Reviews: What I Realized Watching P.S. I Love You For The Second Time

If you’re anything like me, and many other millennials to gen z’s, you fell in love with the high school romance that was the quirky To All the Boys I Loved Before (TATBILB). I related to Laura Jean, her romance book obsession and the dream she had for a love like the ones in those books. So when the trailer dropped for P.S I Still Love You, I got hyped to return to this colorful, picturesque high school life where it’s normal to go on lavish ski trips and cherry blossoms bloom. The trailer was exciting and displayed the same type of energy that TATBILB had so I expected great things. The day it came out I sat down with my fellow Her Campus members for Galentine’s Day and prepared for this coming love adventure. 

The ensuing opinions are mainly what I felt when I first saw the movie and what I’ve felt since watching it through a second time. From the start something felt super different from the first scene of Laura Jean in her room dancing. The energy seemed stale and the dialogue felt unauthentic. By the time the movie got to the middle I started to feel like this was a completely unrelated film from the first one. I was disappointed and I didn’t know why so I watched it the second time to really understand why that was. 

Netflix symbol on TV with a hand holding a remote

Now, this isn't to say I hated all of it! Almost all the scenes with John Ambrose were sweet and cute and I enjoyed them. The parts about Bellview, especially Stormy were funny, well paced and gave me the same happy feeling as the first movie. There were still pieces that I enjoyed and the joy of watching a high school romance was still there overall. 

However, here are the reasons I realized the BIGGEST reason one just flopped instead of soaring like TATBILB did when it came out: the writers. For the first film, the script was co-written by Sofia Alvarez and, the most important person, Jenny Han, the very creator of the books themselves. So the script felt authentic, personal, and emotional just like the book. Now, for the second film, the scriptwriting did not include Jenny Han any longer. Instead, it now included J. Mills Goodloe, known for co-writing The Age of Adeleine and The Mountain Between Us. He’s not a horrible choice in writing replacement but there's a huge problem. Goodloe is used to co-writing original work, from what I understand; now he is replacing the very creator of the series this film is based on. So it’s a lot to tackle, taking on the same energy and authenticity that the storyteller before you had. I think this seeped into the lines and is one of the reasons this film felt less real to me, especially just in the beginning dating scene the dialogue seems so boring and dry it was kinda hard to sit through. 

flowers and book on bed

Now among some continuity errors, i.e. young John Ambrose in TATBILB vs. John Ambrose in P.S. I Still Love You, YIKES; there was another big contender as to why this sequel felt different and that was the director. The first film was directed by Susan Johnson and she did an amazing job of making this film colorful and youthful and most importantly, feminine. The second film was filmed by Michael Fimognari, who was actually the cinematographer for the first film. The interesting fact about Fimognari is that he hasn’t directed a major motion picture before P.S. I Still Love You. This isn’t a bad thing, however I think when continuing the legacy from a movie that was so stylistic and performed well with viewers it's hard to be a first time director. Not only is Fimognari the director he’s the cinematographer, so it seems like maybe he was juggling too many balls on this project as well. 

There were some choices--the last shot for example *insert eye roll*, that I thought made the film feel not only less feminine, but less like the To All The Boys series that many others and I wanted. The imagery of the entire film just seems dark, the school scenes are cold and blue, and those funny poster title changes from the first movie fall short in this one. The fantasy-esque, dreamlike, warm and beautiful cinematography that made the first movie what it was just wasn’t even close to being present in this one. I think this really made the whole movie more drab and the storyline more depressing to me with Lara Jean too focused on her inner insecurities driving the plot. The sad parts were made more sad because the entire movie just seemed dark and not as light as the one before. This isn't to say there weren't any good shots, (there were) but the overall atmosphere of the film seemed like a dark storm in my opinion. 

Kristen Bryant-Thinking In A Lala College SweatshirtSo all in all, the movie was fun and enjoyable but not the satisfying, lovey-dovey, posh highschool romance that fueled my craving. I think it was done well but could have been done better and left me wanting something more than it was. So while I go re-watch the first one, and hope for a great last one, let us know what your thoughts are P.S. I Still Love You at the Her Campus UCI Instagram @hercampusuci!