Cast: Michelle Monaghan, James Marsden, Luke Bracey, Liana Liberato, Gerald McRaney
Direction: Michael Hoffman
Duration: 1 hour 58 minutes
Story: High school sweethearts Dawson (James Marsden) and Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) reunite after 20 years to realize they never stopped loving each other. But times change and so do circumstances. Can the two pick up from where they left off?
Review: Like The Notebook, the narrative plays out in two time-frames. It oscillates between the past and present. Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato play the younger Dawson and Amanda respectively. Amanda, the spirited rich girl, falls in love with the quintessential good boy Dawson. Since he comes from a family of thugs, the two are forced to part ways. But destiny ensures they meet 20 years later.
The film is based on Nicholas Sparks’ book, and if you like his concept of an idealistic romance set against the backdrop of beautiful landscapes with dollops of melodrama thrown in, The Best of Me is for you. But if you don’t like his ‘typical’ love stories, the film may offend your sensibility for being unabashedly cheesy, formulaic and painfully predictable.
As far as casting is concerned, much to our surprise, the younger actors do not resemble James and Michelle at all. Wonder if Luke was cast keeping the late Paul Walker (original choice) in mind, but even that seems weird as he looks a lot like Heath Ledger instead.
However, in spite of the flaws and the too-good-to-be-true concept, The Best of Me manages to strike a chord, thanks to Michelle Monaghan and Gerald McRaney’s heartrending performances. Michelle’s emotional outburst towards the end and McRaney’s portrayal of Tuck is tear-evoking. The actress beautifully depicts the emotional upheaval of her character. While Marsden too renders a mature act, it’s Michelle who steals the show. We are yet to see the best of you, James!
Beautiful visuals are another asset. A scene shot in a lake where the actress is shown to be rotating and floating in water is liberating – a metaphor for letting go of fixed notions and following your heart. The film has a lot of hidden messages like these, which unfortunately get overshadowed by an overdose of mush and superficial love scenes that get massive footage.