Romance pushes all the right cliché buttons

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Forever My Girl
Opens Jan. 19

2 out of 5

It would be easy to dismiss Forever My Girl as a subpar Nicholas Sparks knock-off (bad boy is redeemed by love and sense of community in a quaint little town). But there are two factors that make it interesting. It comes at a time when the subgenre is all but dead outside the Hallmark Channel, and it treats the Red State milieu (a.k.a. Trump Nation) with a lot more kindness than your average Hollywood production.

That said, no one should mistake Forever My Girl for a good movie. Troubled country star Liam Page (charisma vacuum Alex Roe) has grown tired of life on the road and semi-drunk sex with groupies (sounds horrible). The death of a childhood friend inspires Liam to head home to pay his respects. Here is the catch: the entire town hates him for jilting his sweetheart Josie (the charming Jessica Rothe, Happy Death Day) on their wedding date.

The movie chronicles Liam’s efforts to get in the good graces of the community and Josie. He is “hilariously” out of touch (doesn’t know how to use Amazon!) and has some mommy issues that supposedly excuse his horrible behavior.

Above all, the biggest problem with Forever My Girl is the absence of conflict. Liam reinserts himself into the community with very little pushback, so the climatic about-face rings hollow.

I could poke holes to this movie until the cows come home, but the most inexplicable aspect of Forever My Girl is director Bethany Ashton Wolf’s confidence. The film is beautifully shot, technically competent and keeps a straight face, as silly as the story may appear. Roll your eyes at the faith-inspired content and laugh at the romantic clichés all you want, but you won’t be bored.