Women & Romcoms : To All the Boys : Always & Forever
Updated: May 8, 2022
At the end end of To All the Boys PS: I Still Love You, we left Lara Jean and Peter as they got back together after a short break up. The third film opens with the protagonists waiting for their university admissions and projecting themselves into college life.
The subject is definitely interesting. As the end of high school comes, aspirations and university choices can be fatal to high school relationships. In To All the Boys I've loved before, Margot ended her relationship with Josh before she moved to Scotland for university. Lara Jean and Peter plan to go to the same university - Stanford which is Peter's dream. So, what about Lara Jean's dreams ?
From the trailer, I thought she might consider giving up on her NYU dreams to keep Peter. But she is one of the best female teenage characters so she stands up for her dream. She chooses to go to NYU even if it harms her relationship with Peter. Of course, he can't take it so they break up. But she holds on to her dream. It is incredibly empowering to see her put herself before Peter. This is what is often lacking in romantic comedies.
A relationship will never hold you back. As Lara Jean says, you can not keep someone by not growing. Her dreams are as important as Peter's. She sets a precedent for teenage films. How could we accept to see girls choosing to follow their boyfriends even if it means giving up on their dreams after that ?
It is an interesting lesson. It shows that even if it means losing someone, sometimes you need to put yourself first. The choice of a degree or a university can play a big part in people's lives so you'd rather not make that choice because of a man.
Lara Jean wants to choose Peter but she ends up choosing herself. That journey is important to see because it shows choices can evolve and even if you agreed on something, you have the chance to change your mind. It is okay to change your mind.
Of course by the end of the film, Lara Jean gets NYU and her relationship with Peter is back on track. Although I would have almost preferred to see them stay broken up, I get that it is important to show that women too can get it all - just like their male counterparts. It is important to see women like Lara Jean getting the chance to work on their dream and having a supporting boyfriend.
Peter is an important part of the puzzle. Although he breaks up with her, he changes his mind. He is not afraid to admit he was scared and that he was wrong. He realises he wants to support her not hold her back. This moment challenges gender stereotypes. It shows men are biased and can expect their girlfriends to follow them but they can also change. Overall, To All the Boys : Always & Forever is an entertaining film with an important reflection on dreams and relationships. It is a profoundly feminist film even if it does not advertise itself like that. Teenagers need these kind of films when making big, life-altering decision. You can too have it all. It might not be easy but it will always be worth it.