I love a good story of personal transformation; most of my favorite books and movies are character-driven, rather than action features or mysteries that are more concerned with plot. “Forever My Girl” tells the kind of story I love, with richly-developed characters that you feel you’ve gotten to know well by the time the credits roll.
Forever My Girl tells the story of country music super-star Liam Page (Alex Roe) who left his bride, Josie (Jessica Rothe), at the altar choosing fame and fortune instead. However, Liam never got over Josie, his one true love, nor did he ever forget his Southern roots in the small community where he was born and raised. When he unexpectedly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his high school best friend, Liam is suddenly faced with the consequences of all that he left behind. (Synopsis via Roadside Attractions.)
While this movie is definitely a romance, I was particularly struck by its exploration of forgiveness and trust. Liam finds a cold reception from nearly everyone in town when he returns for that funeral. He can’t even bring himself to enter the church, where his father is the minister. Liam’s father is not very welcoming to him, and Josie flat-out lets him know that he doesn’t belong there anymore. Yet after a confrontation with his son, Liam’s father preaches a sermon on how hard it is to forgive, admitting that he knows personally just how hard forgiveness can be. Liam, who can’t get past that church door, hears the whole thing from outside — and as the congregation leaves, nearly everyone hugs him, except Josie and her brother, who had stepped up to take care of things when Liam skipped town, not knowing that his fiancé was pregnant.
Early on in the movie, Liam seems like the stereotypical music superstar, living a life of luxury and not at all in the real world. The one thing that showed his human side is his refusal to replace a battered and broken cell phone, because there’s one voice-mail message on it from Josie. He listens to that message every chance he gets — it seems to be his one tie to the home and life he abandoned eight years before.
Once Liam acknowledges that Billie is his daughter and seeks to build a relationship with her, he becomes a much more likable character. He obviously wants to do the right thing — he’s not just out to rekindle an old flame with Josie. Admitting that he couldn’t handle the “big wild tornado” of going on tour and being famous, he says, “I just got lost. … The further away I went, the longer I was gone, the more pain I was in.”
I loved this part of the movie best: Liam discovers that Billie has incredible musical talent, and he and his adorably precocious little girl bond over their instruments. While Josie still has trouble trusting him, she knows she needs to let him be a parent to their daughter, and that opens the door to their reconciliation.
The final reconciliation in “Forever My Girl” takes place because of a push from an unlikely source: Liam’s manager, who turns out to be an unexpected source of support as he begins to play a new role as a parent.
The soundtrack for the movie is terrific: there’s even an original song, “Finally Home,” performed by Liam and Billie — and the father-daughter duet is not only a sweet moment, it’s a truly catchy tune. Enjoy it here:
My recommendation: get together with a few girlfriends and plan a mom’s night out to enjoy this movie; if you have teenage daughters, this would be a great choice for a mom-and-daughter outing as well. My young-adult daughter and I enjoyed watching the screener together. It’s a clean romance (yes, the storyline includes a premarital sexual relationship, but that’s never depicted onscreen), rated PG.
Now that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this movie, I’m going to dive into the book that inspired it: Forever My Girl by Heidi McLaughlin. This is the first of several books in her Beaumont series.
Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS
This article contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchases through these links benefit the author.