Starring Lana Condor and Noah Centineo, To All the Boys: Always and Forever is the final chapter of Netflix’s popular teen rom-com trilogy. Are Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky the kind of couple who breaks up once high school is over?
n 2018, Netflix introduced us to the bright-eyed high-school couple Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) based on Jenny Han’s book. It was surprisingly delightful to watch an embarrassing ordeal over love-letters leading to a fake romance, only to blossom into a real one. Its sequel To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You dealt with doubts and insecurities around first love. And now, we have the third and final chapter of the saga, To All the Boys: Always And Forever. Directed by Michael Fimognari, the film wraps up with a love-letter, to the trilogy, the characters, and the viewers.
Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky are in their senior year of high school dealing with big questions about the future. Peter gets an early admission to Stanford on an athletic scholarship, while Lara hopes to follow him there. Her vision of happily-ever-after comes crashing down when she gets rejected. But we knew this going in and a lot more (disappointingly so) because of the almost three-minute-long trailer. So, Lara sets out on a mission to make it work with Peter, amid feeling sad about not having their meet-cute or their song.
The ‘will-they-won’t- they’ rom-com trajectory finds its tipping point when Lara Jean falls for New York on a senior trip. Now she is torn between choosing a college between the driving distance of Peter or NYU, which is located 3,000 miles away. The question about a long-distance relationship looms heavily on the couple amid sets doused in beautiful candy colors and sunny aesthetics. We see prom and a wedding, all too visually pleasing.
Lana Condor as Lara appears more confident as she sets out on a journey of personal growth and self-discovery, even as she tries to have her ‘always and forever’ with her love. Noah Centineo, who became the Internet’s crush for his portrayal of Peter Kavinsky with the first film, does right by his role as the conflicted, yet mature and supportive boyfriend into All the Boys: Always And Forever.
The third installment is the most practical entry of the To All the Boys series, yet it flails and fails as it tries to coast on nostalgia for the first movie. It goes for the cliched big memorable moments and even the chemistry between Lara and Peter ‘burns low and slow’, as put by Lara herself in the film. During the run time of the film, Lara says, “We're a terrible rom-com couple,” have not had all the memorable moments from the rom-com she has grown up watching and which have led her to fantasize about such a story of her own. But we see the cracks and the diminishing energy.
The drama you’ll get aplenty. In one of the scenes, Lara Jean’s little sister Kitty, played by Anna Cathcart, says to her, “This is a little dramatic, even for you.” But then again, that’s the universe of this trilogy, where realism is hard to find, there aren’t any real stakes and emotions flow all over the place. But that’s what feels worst about this teen romance sendoff is the predictability. Too much of it. Yes, this genre is loved even when one can see the mini heartbreaks and overly-romantic gestures from a thousand miles away. But, To All the Boys: Always and Forever feels like a drag at times, only trying to dazzle the audience with cute all-consuming first love sequences and dreamy cinematography.
Whether love-conquers-all or not isn’t hard to tell in rom-coms, but we’re still glad that the characters Lara and Peter come to their own. They ultimately get their cake (or cookies) and eat it too. But while we watch this Valentine’s Day offering and root for Lara and Peter, we are not saddened to finally break up with the trilogy.
To All the Boys: Always and Forever is currently streaming on Netflix.