Lara Jean (Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinsky’s (Noah Centineo) story has now come to an end…or is it just the beginning? With their high school years nearly up Lara Jean and Peter must face the next step: college.
While it is sad to let Lara Jean and her overly dramatic, awkward, and highly romantic ways go, it is a bittersweet end that is more sweet than bitter. Screenwriter Katie Lovejoy (a last name very fitting for this story) and director and cinematographer Michael Fimognari bring this trilogy to a close in a manner that is both comforting and hopeful.
One of the things that has always been a delight to watch is the commitment to the romantic and cute aesthetic that makes up Lara Jean’s point-of-view. When Fimognari moved up to direct (as well as do the cinematography for the films) he committed to the aesthetic in a way that gives To All The Boys a creative throughline that ties everything together so beautifully. The visual palette is just as important as the narrative because they work in tandem. It is impossible to envision this narrative without the distinct lighting choices paired with the bright and colourful production design and wardrobe choices that populate every frame. It is this commitment to the visual narrative that allows us to fully immerse ourselves into this warm and inviting coming-of-age story.
In this final film, Lara Jean and Peter reach a point where their commitment to each other is tested by the fear of distance and college separation. However, as the title suggests, Always and Forever, their love is a long-lasting one. While watching our central couple face one melodramatic situation after another over the course of three films, it is nice to see them approach their problems with some maturity. The growth in both characters from the beginning to the end has been a satisfying one, and how Lara Jean and Peter close this chapter of their lives is one that reflects their journey as individuals and as a couple.
It should also be noted that the films have done a great job with having the narrative include Lara Jean’s family and friends. As she evolves and her relationship with Peter matures, so does her relationships with those around her. Lara Jean is the centre of the narrative, but her feelings alone aren’t the centre of the environment around her. Fleshing out the characters and the relationships around her only makes Lara Jean a stronger and better character.
Condor was destined to play Lara Jean. She so perfectly accentuates all of Lara Jean’s eccentricities as well as her more grounded and relatable traits. Condor shows off her skills as an actress by showcasing the natural progression and growth of our beloved heroine. Lara Jean (as clumsy, awkward, and delicate as she was in the past) has grown and that is reflected in Condor’s performance. Lara Jean is poised and confident with a more clear idea of who she is and what she wants. And, the film accepts and embraces that, giving us a satisfying end to an incredible journey.
While the story is great on its own, it is the attention to detail and the care given to crafting an atmosphere befitting the narrative and lead that really sets To All The Boys apart from other teen romantic-comedies. The quality of these films can only be a reflection of the tender love and care that Jenny Han put into her books. For fans of the books, it should definitely be comforting to know that this adaptation is a worthy companion piece to the story that you hold onto so dearly. Hopefully, as the films come to an end, it invites new fans to read the books that started this wonderful journey. Whether in book form or in film, To All The Boys will always be a comfort to revisit time and time again.
To Lara Jean, thank you for the journey. Goodbye for now.
by Ferdosa Abdi
Ferdosa (she/her) is a lifetime student of cinema. Three of her current favourite films are: Addams Family Values, Cinderella (2015), and Emma. (2020). On Twitter you can see her support women-led cinema, her ongoing love/hate relationship with Disney, her totally healthy obsession with Eva Green, and her great admiration for Guillermo del Toro.