THE MOVIE: Forever My Girl (2018)
THE PAIRING: Liam Paige (Alex Roe) and Josie (Jessica Rothe)
THE MOMENT: Liam realizes where his heart belongs
Smaller release films often escape notice when the blockbusters constantly dominate the box office. Such was the case with this gentle film, Forever My Girl which fell way under the radar. However, it’s time to step inside this romance and discover why it’s worthy for our weekly romance feature. Forever My Girl may have the old-fashioned reunion charm you’re looking for!
Beware, MAJOR spoilers follow.
THE STORY: Forever My Girl
As a quick overview of the story, Forever My Girl follows Liam Paige. He’s a man who’s created a spotlight for himself with country music stardom. But eight years ago, he ran from the altar where he left behind a devastated fiancée, his high school sweetheart, Josie. Still, the one thing he clings to from the past is an antiquated flip cell phone that he uses to play back a message; a message he’s played many times over the years.
One day, by chance, he learns one of his high school mates has unexpectedly died, which prompts him to return home. Once there, he comes face to face with Josie and the young daughter she’s raising quite on her own.
Turns out, eight years ago, Liam left behind more than just Josie.
Emotions plague Liam upon this staggering realization. Why did he leave? Why didn’t Josie tell him? (She wanted to. She left him a message… and promised herself if he never called, she’d manage on her own. It’s a message she has to assume Liam never heard.)
How is he going to be a father? He and Josie try to work through the complications of their past and the secret Josie has kept all these years. In time, the pair reconciles as Liam begins to rediscover himself. Liam takes Josie on an elaborate date, they share family dinners together and most of all, Liam marvels at the wonder that is his daughter, Billy.
Fear soon creeps in, however, and with a rush of emotion, Liam gives in to what he does best: he runs.
Fortunately, this isn’t the end of Liam and Josie’s story.
THE LEAD IN: Phone Messages
Back on the road, Liam picks up his world tour where he left it. But everything is off.
Sure he has the spotlight and while on a national stage, fans write his name on posters. But he misses Billy. He misses home. He misses Josie.
Finally, as Liam comes to the realization he needs Josie, we hear the message he clings to these many years; the call Josie made eight years ago, days after he left her at the altar. This is the heartbreaking message she leaves:
“Hi, Liam. It’s me, Josie.
I’ve called you so many time I’ve lost count. I still don’t know why you left me on our wedding day, and I don’t know if I’ll ever find out. But I really need you to call me back. If you don’t, I promised myself that I’ll never call you again. I have to find some way to move on with my life. But I want you to know if I don’t ever hear back from you, I will always love you, Liam. You will always be the one for me. And you’ll have my heart forever.”
Racing to return home and fight for Josie, to prove to her he’s not the same man who left the first time, with a weighty conscience (and tear-filled eyes), Liam dials Josie. When there’s no answer he leaves a message of his own:
“Hey, Josie. It’s me.
It’s taken me eight years to return this message. I mean, I always wanted to, but I knew that I needed to know how to tell you why I did what I did. And I haven’t figured it out… until now. See, my mom was the love of my life until I met you. And… I know we were young but the thought of possibly losing you one day the way that I lost her… I thought my heart couldn’t take it, so I ran. But I can never move on, Josie. And that message that you left me, I did listen to it. I listened to it every day for the last eight years.
And then when I met Billy, my heart just burst open. I thought I wasn’t good enough for you two. But I’m gonna spend the rest of my life trying to be. I’m never leaving Saint again without you and Billy by my side.”
Finally, we reach today’s feature.
THE ROMANTIC MOMENT
When he finally reaches his small hometown, he arrives at Josie’s house. As the rain pours down, he beats on the front door, calling “Josie!” hoping she’ll open the door and allow him entrance. Even his frantic confessions that she’s “always” been the one don’t tempt her to see what all the fuss is about.
Instead, the house remains closed. When she doesn’t respond to his confessions, he slips his beat up flip phone onto the welcome mat in front of her door and slips away into the rain.
The following morning, pebbles hit his window. When he walks to the window to see what’s making the noise, he sees Josie. With sass, and a face full of anger, she firmly points to the door, telling him to come outside.
A little bit scared (is she here to break his heart?) of Josie’s (and her reaction!), he humbly, and with caution, walks out the front door, and down the steps. Outside, he finds a stern, serious-faced Josie standing on his sidewalk. She reaches into her back pocket and pulls out a small object.
“So you’ve been carrying around this old beat-up, duct-taped, really ugly cell phone the past eight years because of me?” is what she asks, attitude and emotion present in her cadence.
Standing face to face on the sidewalk, and with some trepidation, a tiny smile crosses his lips, and he replies, “Yeah.”
To further clarify his reason for carrying this outdated phone around, she asks, “And you really listened to that message every single day since I left it there?”
Another simple “Yeah” is his only reply.
She begins to soften, ever so slightly as she begs him with her tone and eyes to confirm what he promises in his phone message. “And you’re not ever leaving Saint again without Billy or me?” she asks.
His answer is one word. A response that tells her everything she needs to hear. “Never,” he says.
With misty eyes and a smile, she answers, “Then I just wanted to say…” A pause adds emphasizes the truth of her final two words, “welcome home.”
Together they meet for a kiss that promises a happy future, finally, together.
To me, moments like these are underrated. They may feature different characters and stories, but they’re nuanced and beautiful. Of course, to fully appreciate everything about this sequence and the emotional moment between Liam and Josie, one much watch the film, but the story like this scene is lovely.
Have you seen Forever My Girl? Did you find it a good story? What’s your favorite underrated romantic moment? Sound off below with all your thoughts – I look forward to chatting with you.
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