* out of ****
Was there any sincerity behind the making of this film? There must have been an ounce or two or it would have been one very interesting comedy. Alas, this is a romantic drama from a novel by Nicholas Sparks -and a bad movie for people who don’t know any better.
While directed by Michael Hoffman, who made the respectable 2009 film, The Last Station, The Best of Me has little to no personal touch. This is like a manufactured melodrama with clichés in all the typical places.
It follows the rekindled romance between two attractive people after their mentor passes away. The movie slowly explains what got in the way of their love during their youth and how fate has brought them back together.
At the beginning, the two lead characters are played by James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan. But they are soon to share the movie with their younger selves in flashbacks, played by Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato. I am hard pressed to think of another movie where I was more distracted by older/younger counterparts who look nothing alike.
This is only one of many elements, which makes it difficult to feel invested in the film’s characters. Their development is weak and the development for the film’s supporting characters is almost laughably nonexistent. Good people are good. Bad people are bad.
It’s set in a small Louisiana town where a young clean handsome man is the black sheep in a family of vicious lunatic drug-dealing rednecks. He is admired by a local rich girl whose family has little screen time, except for a scene late in the film where the father attempts to bribe the young man to stay away from his respectable daughter (Sigh).
Their reunion followed by a near-death experience provokes the Him to wonder if he is meant to be with Her. I understand the allure of mysticism in romantic dramas revolving around fate and coincidences. It’s the kind of escapism that fuels a good movie when conveyed on a subtextual level. However, when all that business is on the surface -when characters are openly talking about destiny like it's the main character in the film and I barely feel like I’ve gotten to know the real characters... I could care less what cosmic forces are looking out for the love between these two multi-cellular organisms.