Reliably awful Nicholas Sparks adaptation, starring Benjamin Walker and Teresa Palmer
Picture postcard coastal towns, golden sunsets, young men with washboard abs, old men tearfully opening their hearts about cancer, lovable dogs, speedboats, funfairs, trucks, stonewashed jeans, wind chimes and lovelorn young people; this year’s Nicholas Sparks adaptation is chock-full of the banal totems that unmistakably identify this as the work of the king of drippy romance. The 11th Sparks book to make it onto the big screen is the worst yet by a long chalk, quite an achievement after such insipid dross as Dear John, The Last Song, The Longest Ride and the truly mind-numbing Safe Haven.
Benjamin Walker, star of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, plays Travis, a hunky vet with a cute pooch and girlfriend issues which are quickly resolved when he finds himself living next door to comely medical student Gabby (Teresa Palmer). His father Shep (Tom Wilkinson) is still mourning the death of his wife from cancer, but perks up to find love for himself as Travis and Gabby begin their courtship. Unfortunately a tragic event looms around the corner, providing Travis with the dramatic ‘choice’ of the title.
When the choice arrives, it’s not really a choice at all, but the simple-minded, clichéd resolution will at least provide some welcome relief to those who choose to subject themselves to such a cornball affair. Sparks novels reliably provide acres of awful characterisation and lame drama, and director Ross Katz and screenwriter Bryan Sipe (Demolition) never manage to make any of the characters touch reality for a second. The North Carolina backgrounds are certainly pleasing to the eye, but anyone looking for a return to the relative high of Sparks’ The Notebook will be disappointed. For audiences, the only important choice is to find something better to do than watch this anemic film.
General release from Fri 4 Mar.