Lara Jean ?? Peter Kavinsky
In 2018, Netflix introduced us to the small-screen versions of Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky. In the beginning, they pretended to be each other’s significant other—to save face, to feel a little less alone—and they unsurprisingly ended up genuinely falling in love. In the second chapter, To All The Boys: PS. I Still Love You, John Ambrose shakes things up in a classic third-party play. But love wins in the end, as Peter steps up to the plate and LJ inevitably picks him, again.
Now the third chapter is out. And To All The Boys: Always and Forever is predictably just as predictable.
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To All The Boys: Always and Forever starts with LJ and the rest of the Covey family enjoying a Spring Break vacation in South Korea. We’re told that Peter is going to Stanford on a lacrosse scholarship and that Lara Jean applied to be with him (and because it’s a good school, of course). Next up on her list are Berkeley—which is an hour drive away from Stanford—and NYU, because older sister Margot pushed her to apply.
When Lara Jean isn’t accepted into Stanford, she and Peter need to let go of their “never having to say goodnight” dreams and settle for “we can still see each other all the time.” But when their class goes on a senior trip to New York, LJ falls in love with the city…so what does this 44-hour drive mean for their relationship?
It goes without saying, but To All The Boys: Always and Forever is as predictable as can be. The impending separation of college in US shows is a staple, as is the strain of long-distance relationships. The movie touches on that classic battle between choosing to be with the person you love and chasing personal aspirations.
Without me saying much more, you already know how the movie is going to end. But out of respect, let me say #SpoilerAlert and then this: Who would dare break up Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky anyway?
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Are there any unique scenes in the film? No. Did the turn of events move me? Not necessarily. Does the film push the romcom genre forward? Nope.
The acting is as you would expect; no one is going to be nominated for an Oscar here. The writing is light, albeit cheesy, and the shots of Korea and NYC are touristy at best. The secondary relationships—of LJ and her sisters, of LJ and Christine, of Dr. Covey and Trina, of Mr. Kavinsky and Peter—are given just enough screen time for us to understand but not fully appreciate them in their complexities. In almost all aspects, the film is just enough.
And yet, as predictable as the show is, did I expect anything more? No.
To All The Boys: Always and Forever is exactly what I was expecting to see and there is some beauty in that. I appreciate surprises and sharp turns as much as the next person, but there is a calming effect in knowing what you’re sitting down to, in knowing that a happy ending awaits, in not having the space to question whether or not they will make it. There is a level of satisfaction that comes in watching a show that doesn’t try too hard.
We all need some good stories every once in a while, you know? No matter how fictional or deliberately cheesy the escape is.
To All The Boys: Always and Forever is now streaming on Netflix.
Art Alexandra Lara