Written by: Katie Lovejoy
Starring: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish, Anna Cathcart, Ross Butler, Madeleine Arthur
Entering the end of senior year in a committed relationship inevitably sparks the conversation of what the future holds. A scary conversation, in all reality, because centering your entire future on another person who you’ve only interacted with as a literal child can be quite the terrifying thought. However, the conversation must be had and the decisions must be made as seen in the trilogy capper of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before with Always and Forever.
Thriving in her relationship with Peter (Noah Centineo), Lara Jean (Lana Condor) believes to have everything set for them to both go to Stanford for their collegiate studies along with a love-filled future including marriage. While applying to other colleges just for fun, upon a class trip to New York, she begins to consider the possibility of going to NYU instead, which would complicate her future with Peter.
For a film meant to be realistic in its depiction of high school relationships, To All the Boys: Always and Forever really asks the audience to suspend their disbelief in several scenes occurring in this film. This may be silly to harp on, but I would like to know what public school would arrange a class trip from Oregon to New York where the bulk of their trip consists of sporadic tours of the city and then allowing these students to sneak out to attend college parties. The cost would be eye-watering I suppose but the film needed a reason to go across the country and provide some turmoil to the relationship between Peter and Lara Jean.
This issue propels much of this story and rightfully so as these two encompass everything important in each of their worlds so electing the next steps should be considered important. Completely aware of the likelihood of their relationship not working out past high school should they not go to the same school or in the same vicinity, this threequel pushes Lara Jean in a way she wanted to avoid. However, reality has arrived and the biggest decisions in their life must be made, which shows the true colors of both of these characters.
The ever-charming aspect of these films lives and dies through the women with Lana Condor’s portrayal of Lara Jean as the greatest asset. She has truly made this character her own and everything occurring between her and the other female characters of the film display this film at its highest. From her little sister, Kitty (Anna Cathcart), older sister Margot (Janel Parrish), and her father’s girlfriend Trina (Sarayu Blue). Over the course of the three films, they develop such a strong relationship where they provide plenty of support, but also a refreshing level of accountability. It works so well once again in this feature as each of them enters a transition in their lives with Kitty having a romantic interest for the first time and Trina possibly joining the family on a permanent basis, they each must be prepared for what will come. The most emotionally resonant moments occur between them, but unfortunately, this film has to focus on Lara Jean’s relationship with Peter, which just continually drags the film down.
Perhaps it may be difficult for me to notice but this massive appeal for Noah Centineo completely befuddles me and once again he drags down everything Lana Condor does well in this feature. The story tries to make Peter out as some charming young man, who may not be as smart as Lara Jean but definitely has enough heart to win hers over. Unfortunately, for the third film in a row, Centineo cannot sell this character at all, which made me just want for Lara Jean to get back with the other female characters of the story seeing as this is where all of the positive aspects of the story lie. Centineo lacks the charm this film desperately wants him to have, which just leaves Condor acting circles around him only for the former to receive all of the praise and opportunities because of these films. Truly, I cannot comprehend it because everything we see on-screen goes against what other perceptions state.
Even with having to endure everything with Peter, To All the Boys: Always and Forever still comes out positively because of the larger issue of high school relationships it takes on and the wonderful moments shared by the women as Lara Jean needs to process her next decision. These moments cause a wonderful high, which ultimately gets ruined each time Peter appears on screen, but the good scenes do just enough to outweigh everything else.