When someone mentions Nicholas Sparks a few things come to mind, like people getting caught in a storm, disapproving parents, beautiful water scenic views and attractive Caucasian actors playing lead. The new film ‘The Best of Me’ was nothing short of all the typical Sparks elements brought to life for romance enthusiasts.
The Best of Me is directed by Michael Hoffman (One Fine Day, 1996) and stars James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato. The story begins with Dawson Cole (Marsden) who is 39, alone and miraculously survives a tragic incident. A few days later, Dawson receives a phone call that a friend has passed away which leads to him returning to his hometown. Amanda also gets the call and they are forced to come together to say goodbye to an old friend, while faced with their unresolved feelings of the past.
The length of film felt a little too long but covered basically all the important details within the storyline from young lovers to the background story of the two leads. In comparison to the novel, Marsden doesn’t actually fit Dawson’s character profile but was chosen after Paul Walker passed away. Gerald McRaney played Tuck brilliantly, he was a crabby old man but behind his built up walls is a person seeking company after losing his own love. McRaney was able to bring the character to life just as I imagined he would be like. The interactions between and young Dawson were touching, and quite funny in some parts of the film. In one scene, during an altercation between Dawson and his father, Tuck pulls out his gun to protect Dawson and then offered for the young man to move into his home.
The best part of the film was definitely casting, Marsden displayed a tough exterior while also expressing pain and his adorable affections for Amanda. Although, the real star was Michelle Monaghan who doesn’t get enough credit for her acting abilities. Monaghan played the older version of Amanda and throughout some of those dramatic scenes, Monaghan really stepped up her game. Let’s just say, Monaghan had to cry a fair bit and she was believable. There’s nothing worse than watching a movie with an actor who can’t make you feel their emotions and if you’re anything like me, probably cry along with them.
Rising star, Liana Liberato was cute and reflected young Amanda’s vibrant, fun personality she had before life changed her. While our former Home And Away actor, Luke Bracey was charming in that serious, quiet manly-kind-of -way. There was obvious chemistry between both the young and older couple due to casting being chosen wisely, unlike 2013’s Safe Haven and 2010’s The Last Song with Miley Cyrus.
No Nicholas Sparks film has yet been able to completely live up to the standards of The Notebook which is now a romance classic. However, The Best of Me is a bittersweet tale that’s heartfelt and despite the trailer showing it off as the next The Notebook. It’s a different take on young lovers being torn apart because of their own complicated circumstances and 20 years later, they remind each other what the real purpose in life is. It’s about finding someone who brings out the best in you.
It usually only goes one way, you either love the film adaptations of Nicholas Sparks novels or they irritate you. If you’re searching for a decent chick flick or you just feel the need to cry, then watch The Best of Me. It’s filled with kissing in the rain, romantic gestures, letter writing and shirtless gardening. I mean… if you enjoy that kind of stuff.
The Best of Me is showing in cinemas now.