Forever My Girl
2018, PG, 104 min. Directed by Bethany Ashton Wolf. Starring Alex Roe, Jessica Rothe, John Benjamin Hickey, Abby Ryder Fortson, Travis Tritt, Judith Hoag.
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Jan. 19, 2018
“Don’t water down my whiskey” growls megastar Liam Page (Roe) to an amphitheatre of adoring fans. The sentiment sounds authentic to a Nashville chart-topper – and Liam, with his carefully cultivated three-day scruff, is a plausible New Country hitmaker – but this bland romance doesn’t take its own advice. It’s all water, no whiskey.
The film in short order explains that Liam is kind of a jerk, but a wounded one, still pining for the small-town girl, Josie (Rothe), he left at the altar eight years prior in order to chase his dreams. When circumstances draw him back to his hometown of Saint Augustine, Louisiana (the locals just call it “Saint,” in an accurate shorthand for how overwhelmingly nice its citizenry seems), Liam finally has to reckon with the damage his abrupt departure did all those years ago.
Based on the first book in Heidi McLaughlin’s bestselling Beaumont series, this is not especially sophisticated storytelling, nor is it sudsy enough to satisfy prurient interests. Roe and Rothe are nice enough to look at, but together, there’s no spark, and separate, little evidence of an interior life. In contrast, Hickey, playing Liam’s pastor father, fills out his small role with a sense of history and a conflicted heart, while the child actor Fortson makes a treat out of a trope – the wise-beyond-her-years, adorable moppet.