Three years ago, budding artist and shy soul Lena had a near-storybook romance with the charismatic Kostos, a young Greek student she met while visiting her grandparents in Santorini. Though their brief connection was heartfelt, it proved difficult to sustain miles away from the Mediterranean.
Says Alexis Bledel, "Lena and Kostos had real feelings for each other, but the distance was too great. It was too much to ask, and Lena finally ended it for both their sakes, though it broke her heart. At this point, she claims to have moved on, but it's clear that she has not been very successful at putting Kostos out of her thoughts."
Michael Rady, who made his feature film debut as Kostos in "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" in 2005, believes that anyone who has attempted a long-distance relationship will relate. "It's not easy being an ocean apart from your love. To make things worse, following Lena's decision, Kostos had a romantic tryst with someone from the village and did the honorable thing-as befits his character-by marrying her. It's a tragic blow to Lena when she finds out."
Lena pretends everything is fine and immerses herself in her studies at the Rhode Island School of Design. Beginning the summer with a figure-drawing class, she gets the chance to prove that she has, in fact, moved on when she makes an impression on her striking model and fellow art student, Leo, a free spirit unlike anyone she has ever met.
Their meeting is one of Hamri's favorite scenes. "It's so unexpected when Lena finds out that Leo is the model. It's one of the funniest moments in the movie and so aptly illustrates how different they are. Her reactions are priceless, so natural; she's completely embarrassed, and his nonchalance is equally priceless because, to Leo, this is nothing unusual. It's who he is."
Jesse Williams makes his feature film debut in "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" as Leo, whom he describes as "confident without arrogance, happy, a guy who is fully at ease in his own skin. Unlike Lena, his uninhibited approach to life also makes him comfortable flowing in and out of relationships in a way that is foreign to her."
Lena's interest in Leo and her curiosity about his lifestyle marks a significant turning point, notes Hamri. "Will she adapt herself to his easygoing nature and see where it takes her, or will she remain true to herself even if it means missing an enticing opportunity for romance?"
As Lena struggles to sort out her feelings and values, Bridget learns how her mother's history affects her own future, Tibby faces the risks and rewards of love, and Carmen gains focus through new challenges, the Sisterhood strives to keep in touch.
The pants-their old messenger imbued with so much of the optimism and magic of their young lives-continue to make the four-point circuit although, now, there is often no time for an accompanying note.
"The pants have a more subtle presence this time around," notes Hamri, who cites one scene that indicates how the girls' perspective on their former touchstone and good luck charm has changed. "Carmen is going through a particularly stressful period at the theater camp. When her roommate Julia notices the pants that she has earlier tossed into a corner, Carmen dismisses them with an impatient, 'Oh, they're just an old pair of jeans.'"
Still, the director adds, "Whether they know it or not, these young women are not finished with this pair of pants. The pants still have one very important message to deliver."