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Just three years ago, we were writing love letters with Lana Condor’s Lara Jean and Noah Centineo’s Kavinsky, and here we are already at farewell. Michael Fimognari's To All The Boys: Always And Forever does feel like a slow, emotional wave goodbye to author Jenny Han’s characters as they get ready to pack up from their hometowns and head to college. The path to high school graduation represents a shift in each of our lives that brings about change any way you slice it, but how rare is it for an entire movie to live within the decision-making process? How will Lara Jean know how to follow your heart when the world is a vast blank page?
To All The Boys: Always And Forever centers on Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky as the acceptance and rejection letters pour in from the universities they’ve spent all year applying to. The devoted couple have already decided on going to Stanford together before the college admissions boards can decide. So when Lara Jean receives a rejection letter, she must grapple with making a decision for herself about what she truly wants for her future. The premise makes for an especially tense moment in the franchise that will have fans on the edge of their seats even if they already know the outcome via the YA novels.
Lana Condor and Noah Centineo have grown into these roles beautifully for the final film.
The greatest strength of All The Boys: Always and Forever is seeing Lana Condor and Noah Centineo fully encompass their roles once again and rise to the occasion for their conclusion. Over the past three movies we’ve watched these two come into their own within and away from the Netflix trilogy, and Always and Forever cements Lara Jean and Kavinsky as iconic characters for these young actors. There’s a genuine chemistry between these two, and it's only blossomed further since To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. We’re with them every step of the way as they find themselves in some challenging circumstances that rock their young romance.
To All The Boys: Always And Forever walks a solid line between being incredibly heartfelt and simply fun.
To All The Boys: Always and Forever simultaneously keeps its sweetness and innocence intact. Even though the couple’s story seems pushed and pulled by tension and the ultimate will-they-won’t-they dynamic, the trilogy closer does feel like an active experience that truly takes advantage of the rom-com formula. Always and Forever has a lot of narratives to tie up, and it approaches things from a welcoming lively and light angle. And at the same time, Always and Forever has exactly the right level of tenderness you’d want and expect from the coming-of-age romantic comedy.
The movie feels like a step up from last year’s P.S. I Love You, which seemed to undo some of the sweet and romantic elements that made us fall for To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and Peter Kavinsky. There’s something uniquely lovable about watching this kind of story unfold over the course of three movies, and Always and Forever should be applauded for kicking the excess teen drama to the curb, and just telling a sincere-yet-sugary story about falling in love in high school.
Despite its sincere conversation about teen love, the All The Boys trilogy is outright escapism.
The third All The Boys has some substance to it too. Following in the footsteps of P.S. I Love You, this movie has worthwhile conversation about the downfalls of Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky falling so deeply in love before knowing what they want beyond high school. Other characters call out our central couple for their dreamy plans to go to college with one another before their lives have even begun. But at the same time, To All The Boys goes by is a rom-com after all, and is doomed to throw out much of the logic running throughout the movie from the beginning.
Ultimately, the All The Boys franchise was a treadmill and Always and Forever keeps the machine running in place for Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky so we can fall in love with them all over for the third time. Always and Forever isn’t particularly brainy, but... rarely are first boyfriends anyways. It's all about the feeling and rush of it all, and in that light the finale delivers. On the flip side, the franchise can never out-charm the meet-cute that started it all in 2018.