Let me take you back to the year of 2018. With Twitter and friends alike raving about the same teen romance, I relented and put To All the Boys I've Loved Before on Netflix. I knew what to expect right from the beginning, and yes, the friends and the tweets were right; I loved every minute of it. To recap, the story follows Lara Jean, a romantic who keeps all of the letters that she has written to her crushes over the years (conveniently complete with their full addresses). To give her love life a kickstart, her interfering little sister, Kitty, posts all of them to their respective owners.
Lara Jean eventually ends up with Peter
As a result, Lara Jean ends up starting a fake relationship with one of the letter's recipients, Peter, to convince her sister's ex-boyfriend (another recipient) that she doesn't actually like him, while this also suits Peter as he can conveniently make his ex-girlfriend jealous. Of course, we all know where this is going. After a couple of vague misunderstandings and a lot of outfit changes, Peter and Lara Jean declare their love for each other and sail off into the sunset. Or, at least, make out on their lacrosse field. Happily ever after, the end, fin. And I was happy.
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The film was a huge success with a 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and since there was already a novel sequel right there by Penny Han, of course Netflix was going to make it. And this is where I have taken umbrage. Bear with me as I give a brief summary of the newly released sophomore film of the saga, P.S. I Still Love You. Or here's the trailer if you'd rather watch:
In the second film, Lara Jean and Peter are blissfully happy together - despite Lara Jean's insecurities about Peter's ex-girlfriend Gen - until yet another recipient of one of her letters comes back into the fray. John Ambrose McClaren is basically the 'Team Jacob' of Gen Z, AKA the one Bella should have ended up with. Unlike Peter, who wants to hang out with his friends and flip cups (can an American teenager please verify to me that this is the game?), John Ambrose is quiet and thoughtful. He loves reading books and playing piano and helping old people with their bingo cards. No wonder she begins to doubt whether she likes him!
Lara Jean finds herself in a love triangle
Moreover, John Ambrose is the underdog. He had a stutter at school which he managed to overcome, and admitted to Lara Jean that he felt like he was always second best to his old best friend, who is of course Peter. So when (and spoiler alert to those who still need to binge watch) Lara Jean finally kisses John Ambrose, who has acted impeccably and is basically an angel who would never have forgiven Gen for posting a viral hot tub video, I couldn't help but feel a tad disappointed that all the much anticipated kiss revealed to Lara Jean was that she loved Peter all along.
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Don't get me wrong. I love Peter. He is a romantic, wonderful character who makes the odd mistake because we're all human etc. And maybe it's because we're conditioned to root for the underdog - and not the captain of the lacrosse team - but I really felt myself wanting Team John Ambrose to come out on top. I mean, the theme of the film was that relationships didn't have to be 'happily ever after,' so then why did it have to sink straight back into the original one? Could Lara Jean not have had more than one high school romance?
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I couldn't help but feel sorry for John Ambrose too. It's all well and good that Lara Jean would have a revelation and race out of the retirement home and into the arms of Peter again, but what of John Ambrose, left all alone on the lawn with the remnants of their snow angels? I mean, how bad must you feel when all that you achieve from kissing the girl that you have fancied, for years, resulted in her simply realising that she just wasn't that into you and going back to the guy who you always felt inferior to? It would be one thing if we even saw a glimpse of him moving on in the aftermath with someone new, but as far as we know he is still in Belleview's garden, in the snow, wondering when someone might bring him a coat.
Lara Jean reconciles with last-pizza-slice-Peter
Perhaps film number three will throw yet another twist into the story - but in the meantime - I personally would like to see a deleted scene of John Ambrose moving on with someone amazing, like a member of Little Mix. Or Miley Cyrus.