In 2018, rom-com fanatics with a Netflix subscription fell in love with Lara Jean Covey [Lana Condor], the quirky leading lady of Susan Johnson’s “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” a coming of age film based off of the novel by Jenny Han. Viewers eagerly followed 16-year-old Lara Jean’s exploration into high school romance after her secret love letters [addressed to five of her deepest crushes, but stored safely in a box] are mailed to their respective recipients. Though it has its fair share of conflicts, TATBILB satisfies watchers when *SPOILER* Lara Jean, the shy girl-next-door, ends up with the school’s “it” boy, Peter Kavinsky [Noah Centineo].
On February 12, Lara Jean and Peter returned to Netflix screens everywhere in Michael Fimognari’s “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” and I absolutely adored it!
Jordan Fisher [“Teen Beach Movie,” “Dear Evan Hansen”] joins Condor and Centineo as John Ambrose McClaren, another recipient of Lara Jean’s love letters. As Lara Jean finds herself torn between the confident and bold Peter and the quiet, but charming McClaren, it’s Lara Jean’s internal conflict with her own insecurities that makes “P.S. I Still Love You” a standout young adult film.
As Lara Jean and Peter begin to further explore their romantic connection as an official couple, Lara Jean finds herself becoming hyper aware of just how popular Peter actually is. Whether it’s a flood of valentine’s cards stuffed in Peter’s locker from the girls in school, or the constant reminder of his ex-girlfriend roaming the halls, Lara Jean begins to question whether or not she is “worthy” of Peter’s affection.
This self-doubt is a theme that is not lost among young female viewers. Chances are, many of them have compared themselves to their peers in one way or another, which makes Condor’s character even more relatable. As Lara Jean continues to question whether or not she is Peter’s “type,” the girls watching can empathize with her insecurity. What is most notable about that plot line, though, isn’t the fact that Lara Jean is feeling that way, but instead how she deals with it.
It’s a common cliche among many young adult romance novels and films to see the insecure female character’s worries washed away by the reassurance of her male counterpart. But, “P.S. I Still Love You” takes a different approach when Lara Jean realizes that she will never stop feeling inadequate unless she fully and unapologetically embraces the person she is.
In one of the most memorable scenes in the film, Lara Jean reaches out to Genevieve [Emilija Baranac], Peter’s ex-girlfriend and her ex-best friend. After spending most of the film constantly comparing her current relationship to Gen and Peter’s past relationship, Lara Jean says, “When he was with me, I always thought he was thinking about you and that I would never be good enough. I was convinced that he was never really gonna get over you. And then I realized that the person who couldn’t get over you was me.”
This single scene encapsulates the greatest lesson that Lara Jean learns throughout this movie: to love is to trust, and to trust is to take a risk. For lack of a better phrase, Lara Jean learns that comparison is the thief of joy. Once she realizes that, she teaches not only herself, but her young female viewers as well, that the differences among women isn’t what makes one better than the other, it’s what makes each of us unique and extraordinary in our own way.