New Sparks movie: Cliché


Maybe not, but people will want to forget this movie.

In the latest Nicholas Sparks book-to-movie adaptation, viewers are introduced to two past-time lovers who meet again, causing feelings to resurface and clichéd confusion to ensue. It’s not uncommon for Sparks’ classic love stories to fall short on the big screen, but “The Best of Me” does so, exceedingly well.

The male lead, Dawson (James Marsden), is a ruggedly handsome guy who works on an oil rig in Louisiana and comes from a bad family. However, he spent time pondering his destiny under the stars and would read Stephen Hawking novels. Although Dawson achieved SAT scores that could’ve opened many doors for him in the future, he settled into a much less challenging job than his intelligence deemed fit.

Female lead Amanda (Michelle Monaghan), is of course the perfect contradiction of Dawson’s aforementioned life style, made them polar opposites. Amanda grew up as an upper-class daddy’s girl, and now lived a clichéd existence as a gorgeous stay-at-home mom to her teenage son, conceived in her loveless marriage to an alcoholic, work-crazed husband.

Dawson and Amanda were high-school sweethearts, whose future together fell short due to Dawson’s abusive father and trashy brothers. 

Cut to the present day, Dawson and Amanda are reunited because a mutual old friend of theirs Tuck (Gerald McRaney) passes away, which drew the two back to their hometown.

While the audience is given enough background to understand that Dawson and Amanda were once in love, viewers were able to see and vicariously live through their past relationship through a series of flashbacks throughout the film.

High-school Dawson is portrayed by actor Luke Bracey, who not only appears too old to play the role of a high schooler, but also looked nothing like his older, present self played by Marsden. 

Liana Liberato, who plays the younger version of Amanda, is much more believable in her role, as she shared more similar features with Monaghan, as well as reveled in a more appropriate age for the role of a teenager.

Additionally, these flashbacks are made less believable due to the lack of attention to detail. There is little difference between the present scenes and the ones that supposedly take place in the early 90s aside from the younger characters.

A series of scenes which include Amanda and Dawson ruffling through old Tuck’s things and shenanigans at the swimming hole, reintroduced the flame between the former lovers as the audience sees.

There are a few redeeming qualities about “The Best of Me” the most important being that both Monaghan and Marsden are phenomenal actors. For the part they were given, they both play it wonderfully. 

After acting in other romantic films such as “Enchanted” and “The Notebook,” it seems as if Marsden has this heartthrob role mastered. The real question is whether or not that’s enough to make the film worth watching.

While it may not be a top tier film for many realists, I’m sure it will cater to its intended audience of hopeless romantics.