To All The Boys: Always And Forever; Cast: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish, Anna Cathcart, Ross Butler; Direction: Michael Fimognari; Rating: * * * (three stars)
BY VINAYAK CHAKRAVORTY
It is Valentine’s Day, week and month, what could be more perfectly timed, right? To All The Boys 3 is your option if you’re not in the mood to look beyond sweet syrup. Actually, look no further than the flavour of syrup, for there is not much else here beyond expected teenybopper mush.
The third and final film in the global hit campus romance saga seems a shade lesser in impact than the second film, and a lot lesser than the first. But then, that could be because the novelty factor of the 2018 original wore off long ago. Considering as much, To All The Boys: Always And Forever is still worth its hype if only because it efficiently delivers what you log in to watch. Cliched as the package is, the film makes for a feel-good finale.
The story opens with Lara Jean (Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) very much in love, with plans to enlist at Stanford after graduation. But then Lara’s trip to Korea prompts a rethink process in her. She meets her father (John Corbett) and sisters (Janel Parrish and Anna Cathcart), which somewhere triggers a wave of second thoughts about what she truly aspires to achieve in life. She has the option to stick to the original plan and be with Peter, or she could go her way.
The two films earlier were primarily love triangles, about Lara Jean, Peter and a third character in each case. This third film is a love triangle, too, in a way. This time Lara Jean must choose between Peter and life without Peter.
In retrospect, considering all three films as a whole, the endearing bit about the trilogy lies in the way it balances two varied aspects. First, this is teenybopper entertainment and the makers have all along ensured the series never lost its fun factor. Yet, despite staying in such a happy space, there is a noticeable arch that almost all the lead characters traverse, particularly Lara Jean. The balance is something that keeps the narrative real despite its feel-good vibes.
Lana Condor and Peter Kavinsky still share the sparks as Lara Jean and Peter despite the narrative text getting a tad heavier this time. Their chemistry should thrill franchise fans naturally, besides hiding the fact that the film has very little to say in terms of an original story.