Deservingly earning a spot in Netflix’s daily Top 10 rankings, the final installment of the “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” trilogy delivered fans two hours of nonstop warm, fuzzy feelings and smiles just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Directed by Michael Fimognari and produced by Matt Kaplan, “To All the Boys: Always and Forever” premiered Friday, Feb. 12.
The film is the goodbye letter that fans needed to properly send off the dynamic duo of hopeless romantic Lara Jean Covey, played by Lana Condor, and the charming athlete Peter Kavinsky, played by Noah Centineo. Having successfully navigated their way through an initially fake relationship, mixed feelings and infidelity in the first two films, the couple now faces senior year and the anxiety-inducing feat of having to go to college without one another.
“To All the Boys: Always and Forever” takes on the most realistic plotline of the series, making it all the more enjoyable and hard to get away from. This is especially true for those who are able to relate to the excitement and pressure that comes along with the college admissions process and new beginnings.
Aside from the driving question of whether Lara Jean and Peter will attend college together, what also makes the film satisfyingly authentic is the fans’ knowledge of the real-life chemistry shared by Condor and Centineo. The two actors have openly shared the connection they developed while filming, which translates effortlessly to the cinematic romance they are tasked to portray.
The duo’s obvious fondness of one another leaves viewers wondering what they will miss more: the pairing of on-screen Lara Jean and Peter or off-screen Lana and Noah.
Those who closely follow Centineo are especially able to see how his personality shines through his role, making it pleasantly questionable whether Centineo is acting as Peter or simply enjoying his time with Lana and the cast.
The on-camera team consists of actors like Janel Parrish from “Pretty Little Liars,” Ross Butler from “13 Reasons Why,” Anna Cathcart, Madeleine Arthur, John Corbett and several others who contribute to a plausible, tightknit family that undergoes their own growth and development in the film. Their roles and increased screen time do not detract from the central focus of Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship, but instead serve to create an intimacy among the characters that fans cannot help but want in on.
Also enviable is the vast amount of traveling done during the shooting of the film. Shot at tourist hotspots in New York City, New York and Seoul, South Korea, the characters experience a positive culture shock as they visit universities, cartoon-like cafes, renowned bake shops and other places that often make it onto people’s bucket lists.
These locations, in combination with Lara Jean’s unparalleled wardrobe, the set’s use of strikingly vibrant colors and the introduction of K-pop music provided the unbeatable aesthetic that all three installments of the trilogy reeled people in with from the start.
The visual appeal of “To All the Boys: Always and Forever” is so memorable that it fortunately makes the less than smooth editing of the film easier to forget.
Having to adapt author Jenny Han’s over 300-page novel into a cinematic experience is understandably a challenge given the story’s many changes in setting. With a snap of a finger, viewers find themselves wondering how the characters made their way from South Korea to home to New York and back again. The choppy flow of events is enough to momentarily derail attention before viewers are once again roped in and consumed by the sweetness of Lara Jean and Peter.
As for whether people can expect to see a continuation of Lara Jean and Peter’s story in the future, the actors say it is unlikely.
“I feel content,” Centineo told Girlfriend magazine earlier this month. “I think of all the ways to say goodbye to a character, I think the way that we’ve done it in the third film, it feels good to me.”
While it may not feel good for fans to say goodbye to the “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” trilogy, they can take consolation in the third film’s success in closing the journey.