To All the Boys 3 review: We’ll remember you always and forever, Lara Jean


Series, no matter the medium, are always judged by their endings. Beginnings can be rocky, middles can be stagnant, but their endings are what people remember the most. Netflix‘s To All the Boys film series, based on the books by Jenny Han, ends as it began, by prioritizing Lara Jean’s right to choose her own path whatever that may look like. She is a romantic heroine whose story is about growth not only in love but in knowing herself.

While it is bittersweet saying goodbye to Lara Jean, To All the Boys: Always and Forever perfectly captures the bubbling, chaotic, exciting, and scary feeling that comes with the close of a chapter in one’s life. It’s fitting that the first time this film series opens its world beyond Portland, Oregon, is when it’s coming to an end.

South Korea and New York serve as doors, expanding Lara Jean’s concept of what her life can be and showing her that there is more to the world around her than what she’s already seen. With it being her senior year, it makes sense that the movie would fall heart first into the mythos and romanticism of a teen’s first steps into adulthood.

The To All the Boys film series has always been safe. Unconcerned with the grim, dark realism that has permeated much of teen-focused media, these movies make room for optimism that still deals with the realities of life. Lara Jean makes mistakes throughout To All the Boys: Always and Forever but with those mistakes comes growth.

The To All the Boys movies are a love letter to Lara Jean

There’s certainly a place for the darker, heavier topics explored and discussed in more mature teen content. That being said, however, Lara Jean’s story is about maturity. It’s about growing up. Each movie has placed a question before her, and it’s always the same question. What do you want, Lara Jean?

This time, a college rejection upends the carefully laid plans she and Peter had been making. Getting into Stanford was supposed to be the beginning of their life together. But it was telling that she was more upset about not going to Stanford with Peter than she was about not getting into the school.

For the first half of To All the Boys: Always and Forever, Lara Jean treats getting into college as an extension of her relationship with her boyfriend. It’s not about her education, it’s not about where she thinks she belongs, it’s about how far they’ll be from one another. Distance is a major concern for her, so much so that she initially forgets that it’s her future, first and foremost.

Peter made his choice. He got into where he wanted to go. His excitement, displayed in Stanford paraphernalia proudly worn throughout the film, was not hers. In fact, it’s not until Lara Jean is gushing about NYU to Margot that we even see the joy you’re supposed to witness when someone talks about the college they want to attend.

From there, the film broadens its lens, allowing Lara Jean and Peter to struggle through an uneasy decision without smoothing it over immediately. They made plans and Lara Jean is breaking them to move 3,000 miles away to the other side of the country.

What’s important is that the movie doesn’t fault her for mishandling the situation but it does acknowledge that someone slowly coming to realize that what they want has changed doesn’t lessen the hurt their decision has caused someone else. There is space for Peter to be upset and trying to hide it. There is room for him to be unfair and projecting his abandonment issues onto her. And at the same time, there’s no denying their love for one another.

Lara Jean made the best choice for herself. A hard choice. One that included Peter to the extent that she still wanted to be with him whilst going after what she wanted but didn’t prioritize him over her. When we talk about the lessons we want teens to learn, the messages we want them to see, this is one of them.

As Lara Jean’s father told her, you can’t save your relationship by choosing not to grow. So, instead, she chose to have faith that Peter and her could make it because the alternative shouldn’t be that she chooses to shrink herself to keep what they have.

Life is a series of endless choices. Some of those choices might end with you sitting on a pink couch in a subway train. Or making a poor decision about your first time because you’re scared of losing someone you love. Maybe they’re haphazardly done or thought out thoroughly, but either way, they’re your choices.

The To All the Boys film series is a love letter. It’s a brightly colored, passionate, exultant, romantic depiction of Lara Jean’s life. It’s her love letter. To herself, to the people she loves, and to those of us who’ve watched her story. To All the Boys: Always and Forever bookends what will forever and always been an iconic romantic comedy about a girl who loves love and that includes loving herself.

Next. 15 teen rom-coms to watch on Netflix. dark