‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: Always and Forever’ — romantic and realistic
Dessi Gomez | Monday, February 15, 2021
This Valentine’s Day weekend, Netflix was graced with the final installment of the “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” trilogy, “Always and Forever.” Whether you were left devastated by the second film “P.S. I Still Love You,” or you have been a diehard fan since the books came out, this one is worth watching if for nothing else but closure.
The pre-pandemic filming adds some life to the story, especially in the larger group scenes like the prom, wedding and senior trip, but also in the more intimate scenes like the ones at the diner. Though certain significant details changed in terms of where Lara Jean and Peter were applying to go to college, the general story still shines through.
In the book, Lara Jean and Peter both wanted to attend the University of Virginia. However, Lara Jean didn’t get into UVA, so she looked to William & Mary as well as the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In the film, UVA becomes Stanford and Chapel Hill becomes New York University. Still, the film’s college party scene brings about the same feeling of meant-to-be and belonging that Lara Jean felt when she spontaneously drove out to Chapel Hill and had a fun night.
Thus comes the message that might be the most important in the film (amidst many great ones), that college choices should be made independently of anyone else but the one choosing. Peter’s character loses points in my opinion for not being more accepting of his girlfriend’s self discovery, and it pained me to watch when he expressed that Lara Jean didn’t love him enough to try and transfer to Stanford after she got rejected. And add in the fact this was expressed right after Lara Jean was prepared to sleep with him to feel closer to him because she knew he was drifting away — yikes!
The casting lived up to expectations since viewers have seen most of the actors and actresses in these roles before. Lana Condor portrays the ever graceful and sensitive Lara Jean. Noah Centineo delivers an adorable and sometimes annoying jock of a boyfriend. Anna Cathcart captures Kitty’s coming of age with skill, bringing out the mischievous little sister and balancing her with the blossoming young woman who will miss her sister and has, as her dad says in the movie, “discovered boys, God help him.” John Corbett is my favorite as Dr. Covey; he just knows how to add that touch of dad magic to any character. Henry Thomas was well cast as Peter’s dad because we pity him and he seems earnest in trying to come back into Peter’s life.
As for the closure mentioned earlier, certain tiny touches in the film bring it full circle. Kitty’s placement to be “in charge” of Lara Jean’s college acceptances is reminiscent of her sending out the original five love letters in the first film. Jenny Han, the author of the books, making another cameo in a flashback scene solidifies the nod to her as creator of this franchise. The final line as Lara Jean and Peter begin the next chapters of their lives brings the entire story home and reminds how this all started.
Title: “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: Always and Forever”
Starring: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo
Director: Michael Fimognari
Genre: Romantic comedy
If you like: “The Kissing Booth”
Shamrocks: 4 out of 5