WHAT TO SEE: Forever My Girl
Starring Alex Roe, Jessica Rothe, John Benjamin Hickley, Abby Ryder Fortson
Run time: 108 min
On the verge of his first big break, Liam Page (Alex Roe) has a “Sister Golden Hair” moment: He ain’t ready for the altar, and that’s where he leaves his high school sweetheart standing, opting to pursue a promising career in country music instead. He soon becomes an international star, but he can’t get Josie (Jessica Rothe) off his mind, even to the point of keeping alive the dilapidated flip-phone that still held her final anguished and bewildered voicemail. Meanwhile, Josie — along with all the other residents of his small Louisiana hometown — is doing her best to forget all about him.
Finally returning home after eight years to attend the funeral of a friend, Liam runs into cold shoulders everywhere — and a bit of a gut punch, figuratively and literally. Realizing the hurt his actions caused, he falteringly tries to rebuild the relationships he has wounded. His own father (John Benjamin Hickey), a pastor, reconciles with Liam after a few days, and his sermon on forgiveness helps melt some ice within the community. The sledding is a bit tougher when it comes to Josie, however.
It’s a pleasant and decent enough film for adolescents. The original country tunes have the obligatory lyrics about women and whiskey, and it quickly becomes obvious that Liam and Josie had slept together before their long-ago planned wedding. One might wish Liam were capable of better social skills, and there’s the Hollywood convention of a preadolescent child who is a bit too comfortable among adults, precocious to the point of annoyance. But these are relatively minor quibbles.
Ultimately, it’s a story of a young man who finds he must answer his wakeup call, reassess his life’s priorities, and assume adult responsibilities — however belatedly — in hopes of winning forgiveness from the girl he hopes will meet him in the middle.
GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff writer.