April 13, 2024

The final chapter of the Netflix rom-com trilogy arrived at the streaming service on Feb. 12, warming my body and soul with its beautiful soundtrack, heartfelt moments, and purity.

I am a hopeless romantic, but I am also reasonable, practical, and have realistic expectations when it comes to relationships and analyzing cinema couples. “To All the Boys: Always and Forever”, adapted from the book by Jenny Han, surprisingly showed glimmers of reality, especially with decisions backed by actual character development instead of intense, drama-inspired writers.

It’s now suddenly time for big transitions in almost any teenager’s academic career, as Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) both endure exciting college acceptances, adorable promposals, an eye-opening senior trip to New York City, and a wedding ceremony. Even as Lara Jean travels to Korea with her family, she and Peter appear stronger than ever, especially when both are planning to attend Stanford University and enjoy the thought of never having to say goodnight. Couple goals, right?

Obviously, my friend reality comes a-knocking when Lara Jean receives the most soul-crushing message that started with: “We regret to inform you”. Although, as our strong female protagonist toils with decision-making and the pressures of honesty, I found absolute pleasure in she and Peter collaborating in finding “their song”. The couple looks at themselves as a whole, trying to find a lyrical tune that defines them, as well as recalling how they first met and other memories from the two previous films. It gives a sense of security for each of them as each deal with issues they both try to sweep under the rug, showing yet another trait they share.

I took note of quite a few symbols from classic romantic films such as “Say Anything” and “Pride and Prejudice”, as well as certain songs used in the first film at key moments in their ‘fake’ relationship. “Always and Forever” director Michael Fimognari clearly wanted to show viewers that Lara Jean and Peter are hopeless romantics, each of them playing off each other and acting out lines from the fore-mentioned movies they most definitely watched together on date nights. As for the soundtrack, as Lara Jean, Peter, and their fellow seniors arrive in NYC, the insertion of a remix of “I Like Me Better” by Lauv takes us back to Lara Jean and Peter’s first trip together to the ski resort. It’s as if the couple has now come full circle, and the whole city experience that occurs after becomes that much warmer and pleasing to watch.

Condor and Centineo show a wonderful example of what we all hope to have in a relationship: a partner that is understanding in a time of uncertainty, supporting, and always down to listen. Not to mention the true acts of love that throw back to their beginning and middle.

“Always and Forever” is definitely worth a watch if you want to be wishing you were in Lara Jean’s shoes: happy, hopeful, and supported by Peter no matter what she decides in the end. Honestly, I felt through the screen the reality and toils the couple went through, and the last time I felt that in a romance film was a long time ago. So, take a night to yourself or with your significant other, cuddle up, and enjoy just the piece of art this film is.

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