Director: Michael Hoffman
Starring: Michelle Monaghan, James Marsden, Luke Bracey, Liana Liberato, Gerald McRaney, Caroline Goodall
Written by: J. Miles Goodloe, Will Fetters and (based on the novel) Nicholas Sparks
Running Time: 119 mins
Release date: 15th October 2014
The release of a new Nicholas Sparks adapted movie is like slipping into a well-worn pair of shoes: you know exactly what you are going to get, there’s no surprises and you can just sit back and relax. The Best Of Me is no exception. It clearly ticks all the right Sparks boxes, covering all the issues that the writer loves so much and yet, in its familiarity, the lack of any surprises makes for a predictable experience.
Dawson Cole is an oil worker who survives a serious accident that makes him realise that maybe he was put on this earth for a reason. Amanda is a married woman with a teenage son and a husband who would rather spend his time drinking and playing golf. When the pair get a call from a lawyer, saying that an old friend has passed away, Dawson and Amanda head to their old hometown where their relationship is rekindled and, seen in flashback, shows a shy Dawson slowly falling for the rich kid, Amanda, while reliving the horrors of Dawson’s father and the bond they have with Tuck, the man who died.
I hardly fall into the demographics for this movie, as proven from the screening I attended, which as made up of women and young girls. It is the modern equivalent of the old Mills and Boons. A love story about two people who haven’t fallen out of love with each other, even if twenty odd years have past. Not exactly a two-hour filler so we get back story. Lots of back story!
Shown in flashback, we see how the relationship between Dawson and Amanda grows and flourishes. We see them fall in love until tragedy befalls them. We also see Dawson and Amanda in adult form, how they are brought back together after the death of their friend, Tuck, a man who took Dawson under his wing after discovering him hiding in his garage after escaping from his violent father.
And so it goes on. The film is full of subplots and subtext. We have redemption, forbidden love, father issues, the list goes on and while all these things are going on, you somehow fail to connect with the two main character. Mostly because the young version look absolutely nothing like the older versions. It is like watching two very different people.
Thankfully, the older versions, Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden, are solid enough performers to hold the piece together, even though they are expected to deliver clichéd ridden lines that would make most close to vomit. Ms. Monaghan, who isn’t given enough movies for my liking, does a particularly good job as the older Amanda and maybe producers will consider her more.
The young protagonists are perfectly fine, with Luke Bracey handsome enough to make the ladies swoon, especially when he is expected to take his shirt off at every opportunity. Liana Liberato is also fine as Amanda, although her choice of wardrobe seems to be made up of dresses with holes in their back.
This isn’t a terrible film, just nothing we haven’t seen before. The finale is ultimately predictable and so lacks the punch that you’d expect from a weepy. There’s nothing wrong with this; the production values are high, the performances fine and I am sure those who like troubled bared chested, ripped men with a soft side and pretty girls who fall for them in a Romeo and Juliet style will love it. Not my cup of tea but perfectly fine.