Nicholas Sparks’ books – just like the film adaptions of his novels – are really only for hopeless romantics. They often require a suspension of disbelief and cynicism. But if the viewer can set these things aside then they’ll often find a pleasant yet predictable romantic drama and tearjerker.

The Best Of Me is the ninth adaptation of Sparks’ work and comes courtesy of director, Michael Hoffman. This story of boy-meets-girl involves a smart man named Dawson who works on an oil rig (James Marsden) and an unhappy married woman called Amanda (Michelle Monaghan). The two were lovers in high school (the younger characters are played by Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato who look nothing like the grownup actors) and the pair are ultimately reunited. This occurs because their mutual friend – an old widower named Tuck (Gerald McRaney) – passes away, leaving his estate to the two former lovers.

The story is told concurrently with the two finding love in the past (1992) and rediscovering and rekindling their relationship in the present (we witness lots of sweeping shots of tranquil landscapes and kissing in the rain and under a tree). Like many of Sparks’ stories this one involves a boy from humble means and a rich girl whose family disapproves and they both have an epiphany (does this sound like The Notebook to anyone?)

The film also has lots of moments where the characters discuss fate and destiny and their importance. At its worst this philosophical navel gazing is like a schmaltzy greeting card. At times the proceedings are too saccharine and cloying, but there are also other moments that are bittersweet as the pair find, loose and rediscover “true” love.

The Best Of Me is predictable and at times far too reminiscent of other Nicholas Sparks adaptations. It is also a nice piece of escapism for anyone wanting a simple but overly sentimental story. At its best it is engaging, warm and emotional, although for some people all of this softness and light will be smothering and slow.


Originally published on 29 October 2014 at the following website:

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