Honestly, I wasn’t really excited about the third part of To All the Boys. The second part was filled with a lot of mistakes; from John Ambrose being a white boy in the first part of the trilogy to him miraculously turning into a hot black dude in the second part or is it the mundane way it was concluded. The second part tried hard to be as endearing as the first part but failed miserably. But this review is neither about the second sequel nor the first; it’s about the final installment of the successful Netflix rom-com, To All the Boys: Always and Forever and their last chance at redemption after the shabby work done in the second part. So, just as P.S. I Still Love You failed to “wow” me, did Always and Forever break the jinx?
The final installment of the highly anticipated teen movie follows Lara Jean (Lana Condor) and Peter (Noah Centineo) facing college choices and how far they are willing to stand by each other. Always and Forever picks up from the Covey’s family vacation to Seoul, South Korea. This vacation was meant for the three sisters— Lara Jean, Kitty (Anna Cathcart) and Margot (Janel Parrish)— to connect with their mother’s heritage.
Then back to ‘senior year’ reality, Lara Jean waits for her admission into Stanford University, where Peter already got in on a Lacrosse scholarship. They had it all planned, so their happiness was hinged on both lovebirds getting accepted into the same school. They did not want to be “one of those couples who break up because of college”. Unfortunately, Lara Jean doesn’t get into Stanford but gets into Berkeley University which is one hour away. Yay!!! Their perfect love story can still be realized— walking hand-in-hand, exploring places and taking pictures.
However, a class trip to New York changes everything for Lara Jean. She falls in love with the Big Apple, I did too (God when?). The trip to New York serves as a means of diverting people’s attention from the conflict that is brewing. She returns home from New York and finds out she has been accepted into New York University (NYU)—oops! Then the conflict takes centre stage—what if Lara Jean actually wants to go to NYU—3000 miles away from the love of her life.
To All the Boys: Always and Forever tells a beautiful story of love, growth and following one’s dream and nothing short of that. The movie relies too much on the cuteness of Noah Centineo and Lana Condor to charm viewers. It was more of the director telling them, “just do your thing; viewers will surely eat it up”.
The problems facing Lara Jean and Peter are the familiar high school bittersweet issues— graduation jitters, different colleges, long distance relationships and an inevitable breakup. Peter clearly shows he is not ready for a long distance relationship, so when Lara Jean chooses NYU, he couldn’t take it, hence the breakup.
Maybe they should have just ended the story like that. The couple getting back together was way too predictable. Another alternative would have been for them to reach a common ground, like they need to be their own person and grow up. Isn’t that one of the things college life is all about? Growing and becoming our own person. I think they should have just separated as friends and then maybe add a plot twist, a kind of romantic gesture; they meet up after four years of college at their favourite diner or maybe Seoul— to put their lock on Namsan tower together. There you go, Always and Forever is still evident, hence the growth and maturity.
Whether viewers like it or not, the 3000 miles between them is like sitting on a barrel of gunpowder, waiting to explode. The last part of the sequel Always and Forever is unnecessary, the style the story adopted has become a cliché in the rom-com world. It was just a ploy to please die hard fans and to give them a sort of satisfying end to the trilogy.
The last offering of the franchise also gave other characters in the movie a chance to evolve and blossom. For Kitty, Lara Jean’s sister, it was the discovery of a Korean kid in Seoul, which set off a long distance relationship/friendship. Also, Dr. Covey (John Corbett) proposes to their neighbour, Trina (Sarayu Rao), a beautiful ending to a subtle love story. The movie gave viewers an attractive collection of shots; it was a refreshing change from the graphics in the first and second parts.
The movie is full of comforting visuals, cinematography and a great soundtrack. Seoul and the Big Apple are indeed beautiful places. Then the songs, how could I forget about the beautiful songs in the movie. The songs fit into each setting and romantic scenes in the movie.
To All the Boys: Always and Forever is predictable, much like the previous installments, but it is charming and sweet. Sometimes that is all you need to bring an end to a beautiful love story like Peter and Lara Jean’s, whereby all eyes watching are satisfied at the end.
If only Always and Forever deterred from the familiar storyline most rom-coms follow and gave us a memorable prom scene that we might hold in our hearts forever. Most importantly, a dance sequence that actually sticks. Always and Forever is like a love letter to people stuck between following their dreams and clinging on to their plan(s) and memories made with another soul.
- Missed chance at wholesome food porn ❌. Did we even get enough time to savour the Korean and restaurant meals ?
- Missed chance at memorable prom scene ❌. Did they even do anything at the prom ?
- As much as the film tried to make us feel Lara Jean’s emotions during the couple’s brief break-up as it coincided with her dad’s wedding, it hardly landed cos we knew how it was all gonna end, and it merely felt like Peter was out of town for a few days.
- We can all come to an agreement that we would watch a series starring Kitty (Lara’s younger sister), navigating high school, being a social media influencer and dealing with her long distance Korean boyfriend (I think she’d be pretty good at the whole relationship thing since there will be no Lara Jean and Peter without her). How would she even deal with two sisters being far away from home and a step-mother? Interesting ideas, Netflix. Kindly pass us the cheque.
To All the Boys: Always and Forever is currently streaming on Netflix.