Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
What is SEXUAL IMMORALITY? Answer
How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer
Forgiveness of wrongs done to you by others
The power of forgiveness
Giving mercy and love when it is undeserved
The importance of true repentance
The negative effects of becoming famous—a celebrity
Alex Roe … Liam Page
Jessica Rothe … Josie
John Benjamin Hickey … Pastor Brian
Abby Ryder Fortson … Billy
Tyler Riggs … Jake
Peter Cambor … Sam
Gillian Vigman … Doris
Morgan Alexandria … Kiera
Lauren Gros … Laura
James Rackley … Johnny
Arielle Bowden … Sara
Jason Davis … Mr. Guillory
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|Director||Bethany Ashton Wolf|
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“Find your way back home”
“Forever My Girl” tells the story of Liam Page (Alex Roe), an overnight country-music sensation who left his bride-to-be Josie (Jessica Rothe) at the altar on their wedding day. He hit the road on a concert tour and never looked back, leaving Josie, his father, and the rest of his small Louisiana hometown behind. After hearing about the death of a lifelong friend, Liam returns home for the funeral and is met by a town not the least bit excited to see their superstar prodigal son return home.
When he runs into Josie, he is surprised to learn that she has a 7-year-old daughter named Billy (Abby Ryder Fortson), who, he realizes by the timeline, would have to have been born shortly after he skipped town. Discovering that he is a father rocks his world, and forces him to figure out what’s most important and worth pursuing, and forces Josie to decide whether or not to let Liam back into their lives.
The movie is rated PG for “thematic elements including drinking, and for language.” The language is mostly minimal. During the chorus of the first song Liam plays at his concert, the crowd shouts back “h*ll yeah!” “Shoot” and “flippin” are used a few times as substitutes for words that would have changed the rating to PG-13.
When Liam disappears from the public eye, his publicist spins the story so that everyone thinks he’s in a sex rehab facility. When Liam tells her that he vanished to go to a friend’s funeral, she encourages him to take selfies everywhere, including with the corpse and when he’s in the shower (“Take one topless. Bottomless. I don’t care.”). And, in perhaps the most bizarre moment of the movie, a character refers to the paparazzi as “pap smears.” I’m not sure I’ve heard that in a movie before.
Because “Forever My Girl” is aimed at younger audiences, the drinking elements might bother some parents a little bit more. The first song we hear him sing features the line “don’t water down my whiskey,” and a few more that we hear reference it as well. But, whiskey isn’t really his drink of choice, as he has a glass of vodka waiting for him after each show.
Following the first show, he expresses zero desire to go to an after-party, and instead asks for a bottle of vodka and a steak to be sent to his hotel room… along with a pretty fan of his that he noticed while singing. He wakes up hungover the next morning with the woman, and the one-night-stand, while not seen, is clearly implied. Later we see him alone, dropping empty beer cans off the roof of his hotel, while surrounded by numerous empty beer bottles. When he arrives home, he immediately rides his bike to the grocery store to buy a bottle of wine, puts it in a paper bag, and continues riding around town. He also gets drunk again, and we learn that he decided to punch one of the mirrors at the bar.
To put it simply, Liam is an alcoholic. And yet this movie, and the characters that inhabit it, never once address that fact. It’s never glamorized, but it isn’t confronted either. It’s rather peculiar. Liam’s manager and publicist both enable it, and his friends and family don’t bring it up. As the movie unfolds, we learn more about what makes Liam tick, and the perceptive viewer can infer the cause of his alcoholism. But when the drinking suddenly stops, we are left to assume he just sort of cured himself.
As abrupt as Liam’s sobriety is, so equally is the change in attitude toward Liam by the people closest to him. Everyone in the town has something to say to Liam, and seem to have no trouble speaking their minds. We understand the pain Josie feels, and don’t blame her for keeping her distance at times, or for letting him take the brunt of her feelings at other times.
Liam’s father, who is the pastor of the town church, greets Liam coldly, and lashes out at him after Liam asks why his dad never told him about his daughter. We understand why his father is hurt and harboring bitterness. It makes perfect sense. But then, the very next day, Liam’s dad preaches a sermon about the importance of forgiveness (while having not addressed this with his son), and EVERYONE is suddenly okay with Liam.
Well, Josie’s brother makes it known he is not cool with Liam being back, and while we clearly see where he’s coming from, his character is far too brooding and borderline-villainous to win any sympathy. But, the change of heart by the rest of the townspeople is so immediate, it cheapens the feelings the movie previously gave the characters.
But, forgiveness is a major theme in the film, and it’s an important one in our lives. Whether it’s receiving the forgiveness ChrSist offered on the cross, being able to forgive ourselves, or extending forgiveness to those who have hurt us, the power of forgiveness to heal a person’s heart is a remarkable thing. And this movie, despite its flaws, illustrates how true forgiveness can lead to redemption. Liam’s daughter forgives and begins to accept him in an innocent way that only children really can, but it begins to open Liam up to understanding the importance of facing his mistakes and receiving the forgiveness being offered.
“Forever My Girl” is an odd movie, though. The acting isn’t all that good, the chemistry pretty non-existent, the screenplay not particularly believable, the alcoholism strangely glossed over, and the country music not in any way memorable. If you’ve seen the trailers, you know exactly how the movie will play out. And yet, the message underneath all of that manages to make “Forever My Girl” more palatable than it has any business being. The decent-sized crowd in the theater all seemed to enjoy it—perhaps because it has more heart than competence and is less objectionable than most current films. But, that’s not the worst thing you could say about a movie.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.