By Ella Bloomingdale ’20
Graphic by Ali Green
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the romantic drama “Forever My Girl” was released on January 19. This story focussed on the love of a father for the eight year old daughter he never knew he had. It is a story of redemption for the main character, a “bad” boy who left his fiance at the altar, his family and his town for fame and fortune, but who realized that true happiness came with family and the simple things in life.
If you think this sounds like an ordinary story that you’ve heard versions of before, you’re not wrong. And, unfortunately, the director Bethany Ashton Wolf offers nothing new to this overused formula.
The story revolves around Liam Page (played by British actor Alex Roe), who is a famous country music star. Ten years before, he left his fiance, Josie, at the altar and hightails it out of his small Louisiana town of “Saint”. But since this is a romance, the moviegoer already knows that something will cause Liam to return to face his past mistakes.
The death of his old friend draws him back, where he realizes he has an 8-year old daughter with Josie. And despite a few, very mild hiccups, everything slides into place quicker than you can say “Aw, Shucks!”
Then there is the biggest problem — there’s really not much drama. His daughter doesn’t question where he’s been all her life. Instead, she accepts him into her life without batting an eye and turns out to be a guitar genius to boot, despite never having picked up the instrument until they meet. Josie punches him in the gut once, but within a few days, they are laughing and boarding a plane for the date of a lifetime. Liam’s father says he can never forgive Liam for what he did, but when Liam buys him an espresso machine and teaches him the joy of big city coffee over the old fashioned small town cup of joe, that decade of not speaking is forgiven.
Josie, played by Jessica Rothe of Happy Death Day fame, does her best to pull the story together. But it’s not easy-going when her character doesn’t have much depth to begin with. As Washington Post critic Stephanie Merry writes, “she’s bound to the rules of outdated romance movies, which means she has to wait around for a guy she fell in love with when she was a teenager to grow up.” It’s a sweet love story, but you end up leaving like you watched a made-for-TV movie, not a Hollywood blockbuster.
And critics across the board agree. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the movie, based on a young adult novel of the same name by Heidi McLaughlin, ranks a truly horrible one-star ranking, rated 4.3 out of 10, or a score of 21 percent — definitely not what the filmmakers were going for. On the other hand, rottentomatoes.com “Audience Score” is significantly more positive, with 90 percent of audience members reporting that they liked the film
At the end of the day, “Forever My Girl” might not be an earth shattering version of the broken heart/redemption story, but the Audience Score hints that maybe viewers are fine with that. As Roe said in an interview for Parade Magazine online, “It’s quite an empowering thing to forgive.” Maybe that warm and fuzzy feeling we get from seeing everything work out for a basically decent guy is enough… or maybe not.