The 21st century teen romcom has become one of Netflix’s specialities over the last few years, with the streamer churning out a number of 90-minute flicks with predictable plots often plucked from a YA novel, the potential for countless sequels and Noah Centineo in a starring role. The Kissing Booth, The Perfect Date, Sierra Burgess Is a Loser – I could go on.
While the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before films fall in this category, they’re definitely the best of a bad bunch – and the third and final film in the series is no exception.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: Always and Forever – although a mouthful of a movie title – is a fitting send-off for the franchise, with stars Lana Condor and Noah Centineo slipping effortlessly back into character as doe-eyed lovebirds Lara Jean and Peter.
In this third instalment, based on Jenny Han’s 2017 novel of the same name, LJ is heading into her final year of high school with a solid set of friends and a doting boyfriend, who she plans to attend Stanford University with after they graduate – if they both get in that is. “It’s the perfect school for us – he’ll play Lacrosse, I’ll study English Lit, and best of all, we won’t be one of those couples that breaks up because of college,” she says in a voice-over, triggering an involuntary eye-roll in the cynics watching.
Of course, there wouldn’t be a plot if this plan didn’t go completely awry, and Lara Jean finds out in the first 20 minutes that Stanford rejects her, crushing her dreams of graduating with, moving in with, marrying and having babies with Peter – slickly previewed in a dream montage set to The Spice Girls’ Wannabe.
Throughout the film, we watch as Lara Jean agonises over telling her boyfriend the seemingly-bad news whilst visiting New York University, falling in love with the city and becoming torn as to where she should go after high school.
Lana Condor delivers a particularly impressive performance as the quietly love-struck Lara Jean, while her chemistry with Netflix’s resident hunk is so strong that it almost seems unfair to release this sickly sweet love-fest just days before Valentine’s Day. Single viewers will either live vicariously through the loved-up couple, losing themselves in the lives of US high schoolers for an hour and a half before being cruelly dropped back into pandemic reality, or they’ll completely and utterly despise them.
Set to draw viewers further into the teen romcom Matrix that is TATB:AAF are the film’s rose-tinted, pastel-coloured backdrops that make you feel as though you’ve jumped inside Millie Bobby Brown’s Instagram feed. The whole film’s aesthetic, enhanced by romantic bowling scenes, a classic prom sequence and fairy-light-covered parties, will leave you pining for the pre-pandemic world – especially when Lara Jean travels to Seoul in South Korea on a family holiday and New York for a university visit.
In fact, the locations basically act as an extra star in the film – New York in particular, with LJ and her friends touring the city’s famous landmarks, gate-crashing parties and trying to fit huge pink sofas on the subway. If you’re desperate to feel as though you’ve travelled somewhere, TATB 3 will give you a tiny bit of satisfaction on that front.
As for the film’s cast, John Corbett once again delivers as Lara Jean’s incredibly cool, yet slightly overprotective father, while Sarayu Rao makes a welcome return as his girlfriend Trina. Often stealing the show as Lara Jean’s meddling little sister Kitty is Anna Cathcart, who plays the interfering character well, while ET’s Henry Thomas is introduced as Peter’s estranged father, resulting in a particularly emotional scene later in the film in which Centineo shines.
To All The Boys: Always and Forever is your somewhat predictable Netflix teen romcom, but a feel-good one at that – complete with even more puppy love romance for the franchise’s fans to indulge in.
To All the Boys: Always and Forever is available to stream on Netflix. Want something else to watch? Check out our full TV Guide or our recommendations for the best series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix.