Not everyone is a chick flick fan, but when author Nicholas Sparks’ 1996 book The Notebook got turned into a big screen movie, starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, even the iciest hearts melted.
However, further attempts to recapture that magic with other Sparks’ novels have so far fallen flat; including director Ross Katz’s latest stab with The Choice, based on the 2007 book of the same title.
When young doctor Gabby (Teresa Palmer) moves next door to vet Travis (Benjamin Walker), the pair get off to a rocky start.
But Travis’ sister Steph (Maggie Grace), an amateur psychic it seems, predicts the two will end up together and it doesn’t take long for love to rear its head.
Although they’re both involved with other people, Gabby and Travis soon start a romance of their own. Things move quickly, and after only one month Travis declares his love for Gabby. Despite being a massive commitment-phobe, his casual fling with gobby Gabby has hit the southern gent hard.
The road to true love never did run smooth though…. Only this is a Nicholas Sparks novel so actually it does, and after a slight bump in the road (Gabby’s lovely long-term boyfriend Ryan, played by an unrecognisable Tom Welling from TV show Smallville), loves young dream are on.
A wedding and children quickly follow (really quickly), but anyone familiar with Sparks’ tried and tested formula will know tragedy looms. It isn’t long before the most perfect of relationships is tested to its limits.
Even die-hard romantics may find The Choice’s cheesiness hard to swallow, though the film does pick up in the last 25 minutes and becomes halfway enjoyable. However the actual love story, which audiences are meant to believe is a once in a lifetime kind of romance, is sped up to such an extent it leaves a bad taste for the whole feature
Walker is set for big things and recently made a splash (literally) in In the Heart of the Sea, but this is the wrong genre for him. However, at least he comes across as both sweet and charming in The Choice, unlike his co-star Palmer, who is borderline awful. In some scenes it’s like you’re watching a student in a high school production, which doesn’t make for great viewing. Over the top and unlikeable, Gabby is not a character that is enduring for the audience, even though she’s the movie’s heroine.
Double Oscar-nominee Tom Wilkinson is a strange casting as Travis’ dad Shep, although he does a good job with the average material he‘s been given.
The film is set in a quaint coastal town, and the sweeping landscape views and shots of the lake where Travis and Gabby live are beautiful. However, stunning scenery does not make up for a film with below average acting and ridiculous plot points.
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