Disclaimer: may contain spoilers
This past Valentine’s weekend, fans of the “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” franchise said goodbye to Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky in “To All The Boys: Always and Forever.” If you’ve been following me for a while, you may remember my blog post on “To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You.”
In the second movie in the TATB franchise, based on the novels by Jenny Han, protagonist Lara Jean [Lana Condor] found herself at a crossroads between high school “it” boy Peter Kavinsky [Noah Centineo] and long-lost crush John Ambrose [Jordan Fisher]. In the third and final film of the trilogy, Lara Jean has yet another decision to make, though this one forces her to choose between herself and her boyfriend.
As the end of her high school career approaches, Lara Jean has her sights set on Stanford University where the love of her life, Peter Kavinsky, happens to have a lacrosse scholarship for. But, when she’s rejected from Stanford, her plans are shattered and Lara Jean finds herself unsure of what this will mean for her relationship. Sure, she could attend her safety school which is only an hour-long drive to Stanford, but after visiting New York City on a senior trip, Lara Jean finds herself falling in love all over again; this time with New York University.
For anyone who has had to choose between the comfort of the people you love and a new adventure that’s equal parts exciting and terrifying, the feelings of uncertainty and anxiety that Lara Jean feels are incredibly familiar. Though many viewers are well beyond their high school years, it’s important to note that Lara Jean is setting an example for the younger audience, thus making her decision that much more impactful.
As much as I wish I could sit here and say that the obvious choice would be for Lara Jean to choose the school that is best for her, regardless of her relationship, I have to admit that it’s not that easy. As many people know, when you’re so completely in love with someone, you’ll do anything to make sure the relationship lasts. Sometimes, you even put your needs second without even realizing it. Ultimately, Lara Jean puts herself before her relationship, giving her one of the best character arcs that I’ve seen recently.
I think the reality of the plot in “TATB: Always and Forever” is part of what makes it, arguably, the best film out of the trilogy. This, coupled with the sense of empowerment and character development that Lara Jean has gone through over the years makes “Always and Forever” a film that feels incredibly personal to each individual viewer.
Although I haven’t yet read Jenny Han’s TATB series [though, it is first on my TBR list], Lara Jean and her story has become incredibly special to me. As a romantic, I’ve loved watching a character who is fiercely devoted to romantic comedies, thrives off romance novels and romanticizes every aspect of her life. But, as a biracial Filipino American, I’ve also loved watching a Korean American female protagonist gain such popularity in mainstream media. It’s bittersweet to know that Lara Jean’s story is ending, but that just gives me an excuse to continuously rewatch all of the films on Netflix 😉