Romance is already in the cinematic air with Valentine’s Day less than a month away. The first noteworthy movie romance for 2018 is Forever My Girl, directed by Bethany Ashton Wolf. The film follows a famous country singer Liam Page (Alex Roe) who returns back to the small Louisiana town he left behind seven years prior, but fixing the past is just one of the many hurdles he has to overcome, the biggest one being winning back the woman he left at the altar to pursue fame.
Far from being a Nicholas Sparks movie, it does possess some familiar trappings of that very specific film genre. There’s long lost love needing repair, a character returning after years away and trying to get back to his roots and two attractive young up-and-coming actors in leading roles with Roe and Jessica Rothe (Happy Death Day). Where it differs from the others is that an early twist in the movie reveals something about Liam that raises the stakes immediately.
A female led production, writer of the novel Heidi McLaughlin and filmmaker Wolf spearhead this film from beginning to end. The shortcomings lay in the predictability of the plot with very little suspense throughout but McLaughlin and Wolf grant it a greater warmth than what may have been the case had it been a Sparks film.
Roe does fine work making his character believable as well as mastering the right southern twang, and he can sing a tune. Rothe brings some much needed humor to the working small town mom Josie. The chemistry between Roe and Rothe works and their ping-pong like back-and-forth chat sessions fit with the plot and characters motives.
The show stealer was young Abby Ryder Fortson who plays the daughter, Billy. Fortson is sharp and wise-cracking and the ideal complement to the less charismatic Liam. Their relationship is crucial to the story and the most charming aspect of the movie.
Forever My Girl is as much of a drama as it is a romance. It’s more about a young father coming to terms with the decisions he’s made in life and growing into an adult and taking responsibility while facing his own childhood trauma. Romantics don’t be turned-off, there is enough of a backstory between Liam and Josie that is addressed early on and develops throughout the movie.
Forever My Girl does more to please than disappoint. There are moments that feel redundant and the plot doesn’t offer much mystery, but it’s still has enough heart and emotional pull to give it the approval it needs.