‘To All the Boys: Always and Forever’ is a Heartwarming Send-Off – Review
It’s here! The final installment of Netflix’s adaptation of Jenny Han’s trilogy of books is finally here. From To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before to To All the Boys: P. S. I Still Love You, the movies sign off on Lara Jean’s story with To All the Boys: Always and Forever. Our heroine Lara Jean Song Covey is nearing the end of high school and faces the important decisions of what comes next.
From this point forward, this review will contain spoilers for Netflix’s To All the Boys: Always and Forever.
Lara Jean Song Covey (Lana Condor) is now a senior in high school, about to graduate and go off to college. The thing is, she’s not sure yet where she’ll be going since she’s still waiting on acceptances. The stress of waiting is real tough, especially sine Lara Jean plans on attending Stanford with her boyfriend, Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo). But if there’s one thing we know about life (and rom-coms), it’s that life does not always go according to plan.
Throughout the movie, Lara Jean traverses through the difficulties of being a high school senior who ends up not getting accepted to Stanford (to be fair, it is a very difficult university to get into). This throws a wrench in Lara Jean and Peter’s plan of going to the same university for the sake of their relationship because they don’t believe that they could survive a long-distance relationship. So, when that plan is upended, the two of them have to figure out what to do to save their relationship.
Meanwhile, senior year continues with prom and graduation right around the corner as well as a senior trip to New York. There is where Lara Jean discovers her love for the city. Having grown up in Portland, Lara Jean finds that after spending a few days in New York, she absolutely falls in love with it. And, surprise, another wrench in this plan that she and Peter has set up when she learns that she was accepted to New York University. This then becomes a conflict that Lara Jean must face: does she follow a path exclusively for her relationship or follow one that she believes is best for herself.
On the other hand, I found myself not quite falling in love with Peter Kavinsky this time around. While it’s got very little to do with Centineo’s acting (though it would be remiss to say that he seems to portray very similar characters in a lot of his recent projects), the writing for his character felt a little two-dimensional. Though he faces his own character growth through the conflicts he has to endure, the character simply lacks for me next to the shining performance of Condor as Lara Jean.
Lana Condor continues to shine in her role as Lara Jean. She’s charming, lovable, and incredibly relatable. While it’s been a long while since I’ve had to deal with college admissions, her emotions and conflict were very much things that went through my head at the time. Although, she still maintains the quirkiness and a bit of awkwardness that our beloved Lara Jean had from the first couple of movies, Condor also has given the character a lot of growth in maturity. A lot of tough conversations were had for a teenager–how do you survive a potentially long-distance relationship; what happens at home when you have a new stepmother; can you balance love for yourself with the love for your partner? Condor conveys the conflicting emotions and changes all so well, even in just the glances and expressions of contemplation.
This movie opens with the perfect soundtrack, the anthem of the iconic Girls Generation, Gee, where we get to see the Song Covey family visiting South Korea while Lara Jean is on spring break. From then on, the rest of the music for this movie had to meet that high bar. And to be clear, all three To All the Boys movies, including Always and Forever have amazing soundtracks. I had wondered if the third movie would match the aesthetic and design of the first two and it absolutely does. The soundtrack is the perfect upbeat, pump-up pop soundtrack fit for a teenage romcom. All the songs set the perfect mood, and even a callback to Lauv’s I Like Me Better used in the first movie created such a beautiful bookend for the movie.
It’s been quite the ride from the first movie to the last, and to be honest, I’ve enjoyed every single one of them. They each feel individually strong and they flow very well as a trilogy. Though this is a rom-com that follows Lara Jean’s love life, we were able to explore more than just romantic love. We, and Lara Jean, find that love exists in so many forms: from her sisters, her dad, her new stepmom, her closest friends, but most importantly, from herself. It’s clear that it’s the perfect ending for Lara Jean’s story, for now at least, especially as she ventures into college and into her new future. It’s also a great ending for the audience as we bid farewell to the endearing Lara Jean, her love life, and her love letters.
To All the Boys: Always and Forever streams on Netflix on February 12, 2021.
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