An ode to the martini-swilling, ballgown-wearing, scene-stealing character played by Holland Taylor who just might be the best thing about this high school movie.
This story contains spoilers for Netflix’s To All The Boys: PS I Still Love You, including discussion of the ending of the film. If you haven’t seen the movie yet and don’t want to be spoiled, click away now.
There she is: Stormy, the queen of the retirement home, clutching a Bloody Mary as if her life depended on it.
Legally Blonde’s Holland Taylor’s character in To All The Boys: PS I Still Love You character is Lara Jean Covey’s (Lana Condor) surprising new confidante, and we are here for it and for her. She has one of the best entrances in the franchise yet. Sure, there’s Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) and his woah-woah-woahs, and John Ambrose McClaren (Jordan Fisher) with his peanut M&Ms. But Stormy arrives in the film wearing a floor-length seafoam green kaftan and drinking a very tall cocktail, all while playing a perfect game of lawn bowls.
PS I Still Love You, the second in the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy, arrived on Netflix last night just in time for Valentine’s Day. It is a rare romcom sequel and, in some ways, it suffers because of that. There’s a sense of stasis in Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky’s relationship. The ‘will-they-won’t-they’ is gone, and in its place is something a bit more mundane and ordinary.
It doesn’t make this teen romcom any less swoon-worthy. But it does give supporting characters the chance to steal the film right from under the noses of its stars. Supporting characters like Stormy.
Stormy is a resident at Belleview, the retirement home that Lara Jean and John Ambrose volunteer at together. She is a fount of wise lady wisdom, dispensed to Lara Jean with a twinkle very firmly in her eye.
“No woman should be out in public with that look on her face,” Stormy says, ushering Lara Jean into her glamorous suite. Lara Jean has just re-read the love letter that she wrote John Ambrose in the throes of her crush back in middle school. Lara Jean is humiliated, not to mention concerned that reconnecting with John Ambrose could jeopardise her relationship with Peter Kavinsky. (His name is always Peter Kavinsky, as the names of all high school crushes are always uttered in full.)
Stormy, on the other hand, is thrilled. “Almost every one of my love affairs overlapped with another one,” she tells Lara Jean. “You’re always breaking someone’s heart or they’re breaking yours.”
“Isn’t there a way that we can both get out unscathed?” Lara Jean asks.
Stormy grins: “Not if you’re doing it properly.”
In the first film of the trilogy, Lara Jean had her best friend Chris (Madeleine Arthur) and big sister Margot (Janel Parrish) to lean on. But in PS I Still Love You, Chris is preoccupied with her burgeoning relationship with Peter Kavinsky’s lacrosse bro Trevor (Ross Butler) and Margot is stuck in Scotland at university. No wonder, then, that Lara Jean and Stormy become so close so fast. Stormy is equal parts soothing maternal figure and naughty best friend, two things that Lara Jean sorely needs in her life in PS I Still Love You.
She’s the kind of woman who encourages Lara Jean to have a drink with her, then cackles when she hears Lara Jean’s excuse not to. “More for me,” Stormy shrugs. “When I was young, the drinking age was 18. And you’re not far from that. That’s about when I met my first husband.”
And there’s plenty more where that came from. Stormy is a one-woman wise-cracking machine. At various points throughout the film, she drags Belleview’s knitting club – “Why you would form a club to do an activity you can do alone is beyond me,” she says – and Dorothy, Belleview’s long-suffering manager. “The only thing Dorothy will tell you is where to find the first aid kit and the bingo supplies,” Stormy says.
Later, when Lara Jean and John Ambrose decide to throw a ball for the residents of Belleview, Stormy acts as Lara Jean’s fairy godmother. She gives her a beautiful dress to wear to the party and helps her get ready, delivering some A-grade hype talk at the same time. “The way you look should be against the law,” Stormy tells Lara Jean, all while putting the finishing touches on Lara Jean’s perfect red lip.
But it’s the advice that Stormy gives Lara Jean at the very end of the film that matters the most. All through PS I Still Love You Lara Jean laboured over whether or not she belongs with Peter Kavinsky. The thing is, she enjoys spending time with John Ambrose. A lot. With him, her mind isn’t a whir of activity and doubts and questions like it is with Peter Kavinsky. But, as Stormy so rightly points out, it’s the whir of activity that matters. All those questions go hand in hand with the way that Peter Kavinsky makes her feel. You can’t have one without the other.
“Sometimes you have to kiss the wrong man to know what’s right,” Stormy tells Lara Jean. “I have. More times than a lady should admit.”
“What if it’s too late?” Lara Jean responds. “Peter and I broke up… [What] if he doesn’t… want me?”
“Well,” says Stormy, empathy and wisdom written all over her face. “That will hurt like hell.”
She’s right. Love does hurt. Even when it all works out, even when it’s happily ever after, love hurts. That’s why it’s so scary… and so exciting.
Lara Jean needs someone to tell her this, someone older and wiser teaching her the ways of the world. Tragically, she no longer has her mother to fill this role. Her sister Margot is off in Scotland, her best friend is otherwise engaged. Her father, bless him, hasn’t been particularly useful on that front. Thank god, then, for Stormy. And her Bloody Marys.
To All The Boys: PS I Still Love You streams on Netflix now.
Images: Getty, Netflix
Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.
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