So I saw my first Nicholas Sparks movie and … I didn’t hate it? Maybe the two glasses of wine beforehand affected my judgment, as I can hardly defend the film from an “objective” perspective. It’s riddled with problems, including:
- The casting of Luke Bracey as the teenage version of James Marsden; not only does he look closer to forty than eighteen, he couldn’t look more different to Marsden. I’m assuming he was cast entirely for the scene where he gardens shirtless.
- A cornucopia of romantic clichés; dances in the (studio-perfect) moonlight, convenient rose bushes … a list too long to continue.
- Its “everything-happens-for-a-reason” narrative (hinted at with the early appearance of Hawking’s The Grand Design), where the potential to examine the calcification of disadvantage across the film’s two timelines – where natural talent is swallowed up by poverty and crime – is wasted due to the script’s insistence on coincidence and convention.
Despite all this, it wasn’t the painful experience I’d expected. I suspect I’m secretly a sucker for the kind of undisguised, oversized emotion that defines these sappy melodramas. If I could tolerate – and intermittently enjoy – The Best of Me, perhaps I should finally get around to watching The Notebook…