It’s hard to believe that just three years ago in 2018, Netflix released the film adaptation of Jenny Han’s novel, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Not only did the film shoot Lana Condor and Noah Centineo to mainstream fame, but it also created one of the largest teen romance franchises comparable to the Twilight series.
Now, following an incredibly charming first film (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before) and a somewhat disappointing sequel (To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You), the series is coming to an end with a wildly different adaptation of To All The Boys: Always and Forever, that ranks between the first and second film.
The film follows Lara Jean (Condor) and Peter (Centineo) as they get ready for their college endeavors. Peter is headed to Stanford on a lacrosse scholarship and Lara Jean is trying desperately to get in so they can be together. But when the senior class goes on a trip to New York City and Lara Jean visit New York University, their relationship could be in jeopardy.
Similarly to the first one, Always and Forever has beautifully done cinematography. From the Song-Covey family’s trip to Seoul and the incredible sights and food to the nostalgia-filled shots of the students’ final moments of high school, everything was perfectly done. More to the point, there were no weird lip-syncing sequences like the second film.
With other male love interests out of the picture (see Jordan Fisher in the sequel), there was a lot more time in the final film for character development between not only the main couple, but also with Margot (Janel Parrish), Kitty (Anna Cathcart) and her romantic exploits and most prominently, Dr. Covey (John Corbett) and Trina Rothschild (Sarayu Rao).
The third film had the potential to be as great as the first film, but there are a couple of cringeworthy moments (especially from Centineo) that can take the audience out of the story. In addition, though each of the films expectedly stray from their novel counterparts, the final film has too many drastic changes for lovers of the original novel series to let go.
There were large changes like the location of the senior class trip, and there were more minor changes like where they want to go to school — newsflash: not every movie kid needs to go to an Ivy League school. It’s perfectly fine for high school students to shoot for state schools; the story will still have the same impact.
It’s important to note the wonderful acting in the film as well. Condor gives her all to the beloved Lara Jean one last time, bringing in all of the false sense of maturity that high school students possess and mixing it with her everlasting beauty and lovely personality. Even Centineo has some nice acting moments, but everyone in the film definitely brought their a-game (including the surprise appearance from E.T. and Haunting of Hill House’s Henry Thomas).
Though it’s a bittersweet ending to a heartwarming teen film franchise, it certainly is a good ending — unrealistic as it might be. There was no better time for the release than Valentine’s Day weekend, when people are still quarantined and looking to celebrate love in a different way. It’s definitely a series to rewatch.