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Everything That’s Good (and Bad) About Netflix’s ‘To All the Boys: Always and Forever’

Is it really Valentine’s if Noah Centineo doesn’t make an appearance on your Netflix?

 

Well, fear not because this year he most definitely has. ‘Always and Forever’, the third and final installment of the ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ film franchise hit our screens last Friday, just in time for the big day. After the slightly underwhelming performance of ‘P.S: I Still Love You’ last February, there was a lot riding on this film. The question is – did it deliver?

 

If you’re anything like me, this film would have left you with mixed emotions. The plot follows our old favourites Lara-Jean Covey (Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) – who remain as sickly-sweet as ever – through the trials and tribulations of making their college choices. Peter wants the couple to go to Stanford together, but for various reasons, Lara-Jean decides to go to NYU. You’d think there wouldn’t be much to make a film about here – Peter accepts that his girlfriend has a right to choose her own future, they enjoy prom, attend graduation and voila, they’re off to college! But instead, Peter decides to assume the entitled attitude of a 1950s husband and is determined to make Lara-Jean’s precious last few months of high-school as painful as possible. I won’t lie, the prom night break-up scene made me want to throw a wine bottle at the TV (while screaming “you can do so much better, Lara-Jean!”). As usual, they make amends in the last ten minutes, but I’m not quite sure if I’m ready to forgive and forget this time round. 

 

Despite Kavinsky’s bad behaviour, the film does have its redeeming qualities. Kitty (Anna Cathcart) is the youngest of the Covey brood, but don’t let age fool you – this kid is a badass.  Ever ready to tell it how it is whether her sisters want her to or not, her one-liners are well-timed and pretty funny. What’s more, the film’s portrayal of sisterly love is actually accurate (50% love and support, 30% “is that my top?” and 20% attempted murder) – a rare feat among most coming-of-age films. I think most parents could also learn a thing or two from Lara-Jean’s dad (John Corbett) who graces us with a few pearls of wisdom throughout the film, including my personal favourite: “You can’t save this relationship by not growing”. It’s small moments like these in the film that leave the most impact. 

 

The film also has some fantastic scenery, especially during the Covey’s family holiday to South Korea. While it tends to skip over a lot of the culture during the trip – an area where the film differs from the book quite significantly – it does well in capturing the breathtaking beauty of South Korea in just a few key shots. The Coveys’ visit to the lock-key bridge in Seoul is a really poignant moment as we witness the family trying to find the love-lock their mother left there years before. Significantly, this is also where Kitty meets Dai, her first real crush who she stays in touch with throughout. I loved that this installment gave Kitty her own romance (and the perfect meet-cute!), it felt like a brilliant way to demonstrate how she had grown as a character and was now coming into her own story. 

 

If you’ve been following this story from the very beginning, you’ll know all the tea when it comes to Lara-Jean’s relationship with her ex-best friend, Gen. Initially childhood BFFs, they drifted apart after Lara-Jean kissed Gen’s crush in a seventh-grade game of spin-the-bottle (big drama). Gen eventually starts dating her crush in high school but breaks up with him in junior year, at which point he enters a fake relationship with Lara-Jean to make Gen jealous but then accidentally falls in love with his fake girlfriend, leading to a very saucy hot-tub scene (no prizes for guessing who this mystery crush is). Safe to say, this did not improve the state of Lara-Jean’s relationship with Gen. However, in ‘PS: I Still Love You’, the girls make their apologies and all is forgiven. I didn’t think we would be seeing much of Gen in this third installment but there are some great scenes on the school trip to New York where we see Gen and Lara-Jean bonding over their shared love for NYU. 

 

Overall, the film is not my favourite, but it does have its fair share of lovely moments. The sets are beautifully crafted, the characters are complex (and flawed) and some of the dialogue is pretty funny. For anyone who has seen the first two films, this comes as a comforting conclusion to Lara-Jean’s narrative. For anyone who has not, I’d recommend watching the first two films. 

 

Words By: Rosie Harkin-Adams

Edited By: Harsheni Maniarasan 

 

I'm a 20 year old undergraduate currently studying History at the University of Leeds. I love to write about anything but I'm especially passionate about wellness, culture and lifestyle. In my spare time I love to catch up on the latest Netflix shows with friends and take part in lots of retail therapy!
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