Released: 12th February
Seen: 16th February
Some films require a lot of thought, you need to sit down with it to figure out what it meant by using a certain camera angle or how a certain line is a reference to a piece of ancient text that sets up something in the end. Some films are hard to write about because they’re so complicated that everything could easily be considered a spoiler. Then there are films like the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy which are just so easy going and sweet that you barely have to think about them, you can just enjoy them and not worry about them being anything more complicated than sweet little teen romance films that just barely approach the line of saccharine without fully crossing it.
To All The Boys: Always and Forever is the final part of the Lara Jean (Lana Condor) story, this time in her senior year of high school where she has to deal with the complexities of figuring out what college she’s going to go to while also dealing with her relationship with Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo). See, Peter has been accepted into Stanford University but Lara hasn’t, she’s only been accepted into Berkeley and NYU but no matter which one she chooses it’ll be a long way away from her boyfriend. The two of them have to figure out if they can make this relationship work with the potential of 4 years of long-distance, while also just generally dealing with the final year of high school.
The plot of To All The Boys: Always and Forever is basic but also doesn’t matter, it’s not why anyone watches these movies. We already know from the start what’ll happen with them, there are no surprises. What people watch this for, and I can’t blame them, is the obscene amount of chemistry between Lana and Noah who just sell this couple as one of the most in love twosomes to ever be put on film. You root for them to figure it out, when they talk about figuring out what song is theirs it feels so sweet and innocent. There’s a purity to this film that just can’t be denied, it’s pure sweetness in film form and it’s hard to object to it.
As anyone who has seen the earlier To All The Boys films will attest, the cast and characters are what make this worth watching and it’s no exception here. Lana Condor does some of her best work here, she’s a pure delight to watch and can go from sweet to comedic in a heartbeat and I genuinely want to see her do more work. It’s honestly somewhat criminal that she hasn’t blown up as much as he co-star, who is fine in this film and I get why he’s one of the modern-day teenage romance film go-to actors because he’s a good male lead in this specific genre but seriously, can we stop sleeping on Lana Condor?
Sure To All The Boys: Always and Forever has a few problems, a big one being that it doesn’t feel like the final part of a trilogy. It certainly doesn’t seem to relate at all to the last movie (which feels more and more like it was filler with every passing minute of this film) and even leaves out a pretty major character… as in, never mentions him at all. You could skip straight to this movie and not even be aware there were films before it which can be a positive but also makes this ‘trilogy’ feel like it’s in name only. Also, the big conflict of this almost seems tacked on right at the end, like they forgot that there needed to be a moment where the main characters have a fight and then come back together for the cute ending where love conquers all and we all breathe a sigh of relief.
It’s hard to say that much about To All The Boys: Always And Forever because it’s not awful and not great, it’s just what I wanted it to be and nothing more. It’s sweet, it’s charming, it’s enjoyable in so many ways with a cast that seriously needs to get more work and a tone that straddles the line easily. To use a well-worn reviewer cliche, it’s comfort food in film form. You’ll enjoy it, you might even go again a few more times and it fills a need inside. Sometimes that’s all a film needs to be, simple and effective.