So I watched The Choice…
I’ve never read a Nicholas Sparks novel and I’ve only seen three film adaptations of his work but I’m starting to think the man hasn’t had an original idea since The Notebook. I didn’t see this movie’s trailer before I went to see it but I knew exactly what kind of movie it was going to be just from the poster. See the poster had a little tagline – a tagline that has now become the bane of existence for most men – “from bestselling author, Nicholas Sparks” Now I actually like romance movies so I have nothing against Nicholas Sparks and the type of movies his writing inspires. What I do have a problem with is him telling the same story over and over again.
Okay, basic plot: Travis Parker (Benjamin Walker) is a ladies’ man who’s never truly being in love. This all changes when Gabby Holland (Teresa Palmer), an attractive medical student moves in next door. Although the pair initially hate each other, their constant squabbling is actually just a front to hide their true romantic feelings. The two eventually acknowledge their feelings and fall in love. Their lives are seemingly perfect but when Gabby is involved in a car accident and put on life support, Travis now has to make the impossible choice of whether or not to keep her on life support or let her die.
This movie was painful to watch! I have a long list of problems with this movie but let’s start with the most glaring – it’s lack of solid foundation. This is one of those classic romance stories where two opposites attract. This is a great premise for romance because seeing two people who don’t like each other, love each other is really entertaining and adds complexity to their relationship. This movie unfortunately doesn’t devote enough time to the different stages necessary to establish this kind of love-hate relationship. There are about four basic stages that need to be gone through: 1. establish the individual characters, 2. clearly show their mutual dislike, 3. give us an event or situation that overpowers their dislikes and opens them up to romance and 4. launch into their love story. The Choice begins its story at step 4.
The film doesn’t completely omit the first three steps but rather casually strolls through them. We’re shown one incident where the characters don’t get along and the director thinks this will be sufficient to make us believe that these two characters don’t like each other. It isn’t. This lack of solid foundation makes any subsequent romance feel hollow because there’s nothing the couple has had to overcome. The movie and characters also constantly refer to this apparent tension between the leads but since it never truly existed, it feels like watching someone try to put a roof on a house that doesn’t have any walls – everything falls flat. You can, thus, never truly enjoy the spectacle of the romance between the two because you were never allowed to invest your emotion or truly buy into their conflicting relationship.
This movie’s writing and direction isn’t the only problem stopping you from rooting for its leads. The two actors behind this movie (Benjamin Walker and Teresa Palmer) were horrible. Teresa Palmer in particular really disappointed me. I’ve liked her acting in her previous films like Warm Bodies, Point Break; but in this film she’s absolutely wandered off the reservation. You know when you do an imitation of someone with the express intention of mocking them? That’s the best way to describe her acting. She never feels comfortable with her character nor does she embody its spirit. Benjamin Walker also phoned in this performance here but I found his acting more tolerable than Palmer’s, especially when the two weren’t on-screen at the same time. Their ‘chemistry’ was so wooden and stale that I suspect that mushrooms could grow inside it.
This movie makes an error in continuity that I don’t even think amateur filmmakers make. Without spoiling anything, there’s a time jump of seven years and after seven years you’d expect people to look different. Even those blessed with ageless skin would dress differently, behave differently or bare some indication that a significant portion of time has passed, right? Wrong! The actors wake up from the seven years looking, behaving, speaking in the exact same manner as they did before. It’s just sloppy filmmaking and shows the constant lack of consideration that went into making this ‘movie’. This movie is also far too long and needed a twenty minute haircut. There’s a clear point in the story where the movie should have ended. If it had ended there it would have been a silly, fun romcom but it decides to forge on and enter deeper waters by becoming more serious. This movie wasn’t capable of being fun and silly properly so I don’t know why director, Ross Katz thought it could handle being deep. It can’t and the main reason it fails in an attempt to add depth to its story stems from the fact that it never lays down sufficient foundation on which to base its story.
Overall, The Choice is a mistake. There are several moments where it blatantly rips off The Notebook and you wish you were watching that movie instead. This movie is lazy, poorly-acted and put together by a director who either doesn’t care about creating coherent story or doesn’t have the necessary skills to do so. Either way it isn’t a movie worth seeing. 3/10