Hey look another poster of two attractive people almost kissing.
Synopsis: A pair of former high school sweethearts reunite after many years when they return to visit their small hometown. (IMDB)
Starring: James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, and Luke Bracey
Writers: Will Fetters and J. Mills Goodloe
Director: Michael Hoffman
Rating: PG-13 (United States)
Running Time: 118mins
The Best of Me follows the story of two former high school sweethearts who find themselves reunited 20 years later. Dawson (Marsden) is an oil rig worker who selflessly puts others before himself. Amanda (Monaghan) is a married mother who is unhappy with her current situation. When a mutual friend dies, they are brought together to spread his ashes. They spend time together and the flame reignites; but the demons of the past that drove them apart start to slowly come back and complicate things.
What it extremely hilarious about The Best of Me is that it is essentially a carbon copy of The Notebook. At this point both Sparks and his production company knew that their other films weren’t cutting it. They needed to go back to what worked. It copied the premise of two high school sweethearts from opposite worlds who can’t be together. The director copied the same kissing-in-the-rain scene. He made the flashbacks to the 90s look the The Notebook’s 60s-setting. It even stars James Marsden!
The film continues to have what is expected of these stories. The idyllic cinematography, the star-crossed lovers, the cliched tragic moment. Okay, maybe a little too many of the tragic moments as it hits all the stops. The cast is charming and able to carry their weight, but this is two stories in one. The flashback sequences deliver the most Notebook-style story and this is where The Best of Me excels. It’s about new love, loss and has the Romeo & Juliet quality about it. This is accented by the best performances in the movie by Liana Liberato and Gerald McRaney. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the modern day story.
The reuniting of these two lost loves feels so contrived and void of any romance. There is no spark between these characters, but more of a respect of one another if anything. Catching up with these characters not only downplays the strength of the flashbacks, but sets the story up for further failure. After the midway point things take a downhill turn. The modern story goes off in a ridiculous direction that decides to up the tragedy of these typical Sparks stories. Rather than have the happy and heartfelt ending of The Notebook, this one decides it’s best to make a romance film that gives the audience a bitter taste about the feeling of love.
Overall, The Best of Me is a mildly entertaining albeit derivative romance that plays like a rushed copy of the original. While the cinematography, cliches and characters are up to par with the expectations of this genre, the dual storylines are severely different in quality with a story that gets worse as the run-time goes on leading to one of the worst endings in a romance film. It becomes the victim of yet another decent story being dragged down by a terrible conclusion. If it had finished at the half-way point this film would’ve been in the 5-6/10 range.
On top of writing content for this site, I also post videos on my YouTube channel The Film Fanatic where we discuss movie and TV reviews, movie recommendations, countdown lists and more! Head on over and join the Fanatic family!