‘To All the Boys: Always and Forever’ Review: Pretty movie – writing – not so much

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Ridhima L. Kodali

“To all the boys: Always and Forever” released on Feb.12th on Netflix. As of Valentine’s Day, it ranks 2nd on Netflix’s “Top 10 in the U.S. Today.”

Ridhima L. Kodali, Opinion Editor

An idyllic picturesque scenery accompanied with mouth-watering and crisp chocolate-chip cookies from Levain’s bakery in New York city. And don’t forget those perfectly pink layered frosted, chocolate cupcakes. What really made it all tie in together was the everlasting love. Not just between high school sweethearts but also between family and the bonds developed in “To All the Boys: Always and Forever.” It was a pretty movie, but the writing, not so much. 

This Netflix original film is the third and final (rom-com) installment of the “To All the Boys” series, adapted from Jenny Han’s books. The film follows Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) who is in her senior year and has high hopes of attending Stanford with her boyfriend Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo). When that does not happen and Lara Jean falls in love with New York city during their senior trip, their plans to go to college together are crushed and havoc returns. Or as Peter Kavinsky would say, “We both know what 3,000 miles would do to us.” 

This third installment was directed by Michael Fimognari. There were a couple of instances in the film, where as a director and having that executive power, it was completely unnecessary to include it. For example, there was no point in including the extra drama between Chris (Madeleine Arthur), Lara Jean’s best friend and Trevor (Ross Butler), Peter’s best friend,  as it was drawing away from the actual storyline. 

On a high note, the cinematography was well done. Each and every scene was aesthetically pleasing, which made the film more enjoyable to watch because the minute you look at each scene and how they are laid out, it looks so fresh and clean — like a professionally baked cake coming right out of an oven. Think about the last time New York city (a city that never sleeps) looked so pure and pristine. As well as the roads they move along and Cafe Yeonnam-dong, or the Lara-Jean and Peter’s hang-out cafe spot. It was like looking at a fantasy world, where there were no masks. No virus. If only, the writing was this breathtaking. 

With a fantasy world comes a lot of dramatize instances which were completely unnecessary to include. Script writer Katie Lovejoy does a good job on providing details and very witty dialogues. However, when it came to what or how Lara Jean and Peter would react or say to certain circumstances, they are not appealing or interesting to watch. For instance, when Peter says, “You know what I am looking forward to the most in college, never having to say goodnight.” In fact, they are so annoying to the point where you just want to rip out your ears and cannot bear to watch the rest of the scene. Let alone, the film. 

The ending felt like there needed to be more left for the film. They shouldn’t have called some memorable voiceover and reminiscing in old moments, an ending. Sometimes pretty scenery does not always mean a good product.”

If you are someone who read the book, you will find there were quite a few plot holes, because the film was so rushed and there needed to be more closure. The film just felt unfinished. 

The acting is what saved and managed to drive the film in the right direction. Kitty (Anna Cathcart), Lara-Jean’s younger sister, really brought more light to the film with her witty dialogues, and how she presented them. Especially when she said, “This is a little dramatic, even for you.” Cathcart did an excellent job with portraying her character in a different light and not just the “routine,” annoying  younger sibling we see in film. Condor and Centineo both did an excellent job in showing growth and character development from the first film to this last one. Condor showed how Lara-Jean became more confident and had more of a direction of what she wanted. Centineo showed a more mature Peter Kavinsky, who learned the importance to rise above and what love really is. Candor and Centineo brought these characters to life and created this entertaining love story.

This was an entertaining love story and journey to watch. The film focuses on sacrifice and what it means to be true to yourself, which resonates with teenagers. But, it still felt incomplete. Usually in other movie series there comes an ending where there is true closure. “To all the boys: Always and Forever” did not. The ending felt like there needed to be more left for the film. They shouldn’t have called some memorable voiceover and reminiscing in old moments, an ending. Sometimes pretty scenery does not always mean a good product. It would have been nice to put some of that effort in the script, as they did with the cinematography. Maybe, there would have been a finished product.  “To all the boys: Always and Forever” was close to being complete but not close enough.