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'Forever My Girl' Film Review: A predictable but sweet romance for those looking for a guilty pleasure

January 19, 2018Sherry Li

Forever My Girl is a cute and predictable, but sweet romance written and directed by Bethany Ashton Wolf. Based on the novel by Heidi McLaughlin, it follows country star Liam Page (Alex Roe), who is dissatisfied with his celebrity lifestyle. After hearing that a friend has passed away, Liam returns to his hometown, where he becomes entangled with Josie (Jessica Rothe), the woman he left at the altar whom he could never quite forget.

The movie makes it clear that Liam is famous, rich and seemingly unhappy with the lavish bachelor lifestyle he's living and the groupies that keep him company. He holds onto his past but never makes any effort to make amends with or contact Josie, despite the fact that he carries around his cell phone from high school, just to listen to a voicemail she left him. In fact, when it gets damaged, he is so desperate to get it repaired that he runs barefoot to a cell phone store and offers the clerk $10,000 to fix it.

It's hard to feel any sympathy for Liam, however. Roe, who appears particularly charming and dreamy while singing catchy country tunes, seems to lose that charisma when he’s offstage. Liam comes off as relatively one-note for most of the film and isn't that interesting of a character. He obviously feels a lot of dissatisfaction with his life but makes no attempt to change it. He's also the reason for his own unhappiness, and while his character has the potential for a great redemption arc, it just feels anticlimactic.

Liam's friend who passed away is quickly forgotten altogether, and though Liam is initially met with hostility when he returns, a sermon on forgiveness is all it takes for the people in his hometown to change their minds. This is symptomatic of many of the plot points throughout the movie, in that it feels like most of them hold no weight in the story. Things just happen too easily, and when all is said and done, there isn't any real consequence to the characters' actions.

The better character for the film to follow would have been Josie, who appears to be a strong, independent woman who has built a life for herself in Liam's absence. It's implied that she's gone through genuine adversity as a single mother and has formed a family with the community around her, and had the storyline focused more on Rothe, who is a much stronger actor and appears much more comfortable onscreen, Forever My Girl would have been a much more relatable and sincere movie — especially with more scenes between her and her adorable daughter (Abby Ryder Fortson).

Otherwise, there are attempts to build the chemistry between Josie and Liam, but, unfortunately, it isn't quite there. Arguably, the tension fails because the audience already knows that it's inevitable that the pair will end up together, since there is no major conflict in their way. As a result, there is no sense of "will they, won't they" like you might get in other romance-dramas, and you end up not rooting for the characters as much as you should be, because there is no real build-up.

That said, while the romance in this film is predictable, a fair majority of the moviegoers who purchase a ticket will likely be fans of the book, and hence will already know what to expect. So for those who prefer their romances cute yet clich├ęd — and presented with a country twist — Forever My Girl will provide exactly that. It has an easy to digest set-up, an attractive cast, and a feel-good ending that will indulge those looking for a guilty pleasure. But if you're looking for something more substantial, you'll have to look elsewhere.

Forever My Girl releases January 19th, 2018 from Elevation Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG for thematic elements including drinking, and for language. Its runtime is 1 hr. 44 min.

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