‘To All the Boys: Always and Forever’ Review — Surprisingly Sweet
Michael Fimognari helms To All the Boys: Always and Forever, a romantic comedy that serves as the third and final installment of the To All the Boys film series. The film follows Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) as a high school senior couple who wonder if their lives are going down separate paths as they head to college.
This Netflix series has gained popularity over the years as an enjoyable series of rom-coms, and this trilogy capper matches the others in quality. This is a charming film that works well due to the simplicity of the story and the smiles it puts on our faces.
Rom-coms have dwindled in recent years. With Hollywood shifting its focus to big-budget superhero movies, many genre films such as this either get overlooked at the box office or sent to a streaming service like Netflix. But this is the perfect movie for couples to watch at home in their pajamas.
While none of the films in this series are top-tier romance films, they serve as easily digestible entertainment. It’s always nice to see Peter and Lara Jean together, and the chemistry between the two is very believable. Watching the two go on a senior trip to New York City is delightful.
Like the second installment, this film is directed by Michael Fimognari, a director with a cinematography background, having worked on Gerald’s Game and Doctor Sleep. This is yet another very well-shot film with great editing, and the lighting in many of the scenes is beautiful.
The screenplay has good and bad qualities to it. The first act of the film features a few contrived situations that can lead to a few eye-rolling moments as Lara Jean makes some mistakes, but once she fixes her error, the story goes down a different path.
In this film, Lara Jean must make a difficult choice. While it’s easy to predict the conflict she will face when specific plot threads are introduced, it is investing to see where she will go and how her choices may affect her relationship with Peter.
While the story generally remains one-note throughout the entire film, it remains compelling given how much we’ve grown to care about the characters after the first two films. It’s never a boring film, but there are a few issues with the plotting.
The story is a bit thin, and at times, the movie can feel less like it’s moving a story forward and is instead a series of montages. Every few minutes, there is an edited series of shots with pop music added to fill up the soundtrack. While a montage of a couple having fun is standard for rom-coms, this movie has more montages than Rocky IV.
Furthermore, the film is not particularly funny for a comedy. The jokes are few and far between, and they don’t quite land when they are there. Nevertheless, this is a very charming film that does more with its characters than I expected.
It gives more to the character of Peter, as his estranged father returns to visit. This creates some fascinating dramatic scenes where Centineo displays a surprising amount of acting ability. Centineo and Condor both provide excellent performances and are rounded out by a very watchable supporting cast.
Overall, this was a surprisingly sweet way to end the To All the Boys trilogy. It closes out many of the story threads and characters in satisfying ways, and the final act of the movie couldn’t have been written better. None of these movies are perfect, but they are charming romance movies.