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  • Writer's pictureS.J.

'To All The Boys: Always And Forever' Review: Sugary Rom-Com Sequel With Lana Condor & Noah Centineo

Lana Condor and Noah Centineo looking at a snow globe

A surprise hit back in 2018 for Netflix, 'To All The Boys...' film series quickly became a bullet train for the streamer and propelled its two leads into new kind of teen fame and produced a sequel which premiered last year on Valentine's. Third and final chapter, charmingly titled To All The Boys: Always And Forever, comes out on Valentine's this year as well, showing the final moments of Lara Jean's (Lana Condor) and Peter's (Noah Centineo) high school days before embarking on their college journeys.

However you won't find a story synopsis in this paragraph as that is explained later but in the film itself you'll find all the classics: prom night, college letters, moody diners, pretty dresses and a class trip to New York. Ultimately ''Forever'' is a lot of wandering around in colourful places, reeking of desperation to cater to enthusiastic voices on social media who connected with the first film. Thing is that there is nothing to connect with this time.

Before we get to the way the colours are handled, let's give some roses too because costume designer Lorraine Carson is truly giving their all to bring some character into the movie. This time it isn't all about Lara Jean, though the dresses are indeed appropriate for teenager's mood swings, but the supporting cast's wardrobes are also a delight. Costume designer is often left unmentioned when we're talking about the visuals when they're actually a big part of production design choices too, this is why you'd hope that there is in fact a cut out there somewhere that does the work justice.

''Forever'' might take the medal for most mishandled picture of the year as the colouring (assuming no modern film camera could make a mess like this) is abhorrent at best, the whole movie looks like a burnt version of an Instagram filter had been somehow slapped on it using Windows Movie Maker in 2003. Almost all of the definition on costumes, sets and walls is rendered useless.

Similarly useless is the idea, or lack of, behind the film. It's no exaggeration to say that there is no story, no character development or even much fun to be had. Casting is still awful (no new faces though so not worth a frowney today), Condor and Centineo aren't bad but they don't look like they're enjoying themselves and best attempt at a joke is Lara Jean being tripped by a dog. About 100 minutes are spent on watching Lara Jean choosing between amazing colleges (Berkeley, NYU nonetheless) and once again having dull conversations with Peter. It's just lucky kids having privileged problems and not learning a single lesson, almost like ''Why make this film?'' was never spoken aloud.

Much of these filler scenes come down to originality and distinct voices not being present, outlined by the fact that director Michael Fimognari somehow finds time to use 46(!) tracks (I had to count them in the credits because it was so distracting) on the soundtrack to bulldoze the audience with needle drops so maybe we would not notice that nothing is happening. But audiences are smarter than that and we do notice. We notice the dead horse of commerciality you are beating in order to squeeze out Instagram likes.

Smileys: Costume design

Frowneys: Colouring, story, soundtrack, originality

If you sit on the same side of a restaurant table of four as a couple, you're not gonna make it. That's just insanity, Lara Jean and Peter.


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