Wednesday 24 February 2016

The Choice ... Sparks didn't fly

HANDSOME, smooth-talking and lanky Southerner Travis (Benjamin Walker of In The Heart of The
Sea) has always had it easy when it comes to ensnaring beautiful women. Even his two married male best friends are envious of his ability to chat up women.
   Viewers know that the good-looking man and woman in author Nicholas Sparks's novels always end up together, regardless of whether they were dating others or that they are from different social classes.

  In director Ross Katz's The Choice, based on Sparks's book of the same name, Travis is dating Monica (Alexandra Daddario of San Andreas) while pretty blonde medical student Gabby Holland (Teresa Palmer of Point Break) is in a serious relationship with Dr Ryan (Tom Welling). 
   Like I said earlier, when did serious relationships ever stop people in Sparks-based films from jumping  into the sack with others? This is what Travis and Gabby do. All it takes is for Ryan to disappear for a few weeks and Gabby's commitment sinks faster than Jeb Bush's presidential bid.
   I can't understand why Travis would set aside Monica for Gabby. Monica is referred to as a "boomerang", but she at least has bigger bosoms than Gabby's, who flaunts her assets in a bikini. Monica later backs away with an improbably excuse about how Travis and Gabby look at each other.
   The film is told in a flashback, with Travis holding flowers and entering a hospital. It then goes back
Benjamin Walker and Teresa Palmer get ready for a
 night of passion.
seven years to when the couple met for the first time, with Gabby, whose studying is disrupted, storming out of her quaint house and confronting her neighbour Travis about the loud music emanating from his boombox.
  This film is set in a small coastal town in North Carolina, and like most Sparks films, the dialogue is mushy, the landscapes are sun-kissed, the water shimmers in the evening sun and the two leads are leaden and exceedingly lovely to look at. 
    Travis lives alone in a lakeside cottage with a huge adorable dog. His lack of commitment is reflected by him having only ONE plastic reclining chair facing the lake. Ha ha.
   He's got a pick-up truck that's got more character than him, but he has a reputable job as veterinarian who works with his father Dr Shep (Tom Wilkinson). His mother died from cancer when he was 14. 
    The problem with the film is that Sparks thinks that viewers will swallow the callow relationship between Travis and Gabby hook, line and sinker without thinking whether it's plausible. It could be, but as portrayed by the two, the relationship should have sunk to the bottom of the lake.
  The dialogue at the start is mindless and made the hair on my arms tingle, as if it felt that danger was around the corner.
  As I've said before, Travis is so used to getting his way that even when Gabby says no to his persistent demands to marry her, he rides roughshod over her protestations and forces her to accept his proposal. Why did Gabby consent so easily?
  Telling viewers that the couple ended up together is not revealing much because it's an accepted fact in Sparks's novels. Astute viewers will also know that there's a finale that will put Travis on the spot. This refers to the choice in the title.
   Viewers will react with incredulity with what happens at the end, with wind chimes heralding a new beginning. 
  The film's about a louche who learns to love wholeheartedly and shake of his distaste of Christianity. However, would Sparks have written such an uplifting ending if he wondered how Travis could have afforded to pay for medical bills than ran for three months?

2 out of 5 stars
'The Choice'
'Dear John'

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