#REVIEW: “THE BEST OF ME”
Review by Justin Waldman for Mr. Will Wong
Let’s face it – Nicholas Sparks Adaptations just are not for everyone, and as much as we hate to admit it, beautiful The Notebook raised the bar high in the ever-fading Romance Genre. However, as someone who has seen almost every single Film Adaptation of his, I can say this is one of my Favourites. The Best Of Me, directed by Michael Hoffman (The Last Station), is a beautiful Story that truly captures what it means to be in love, to lose love, and to never let go of love. Like some of Sparks‘ other Work, we see some strong parallels here: young romance, a tragic separation, and then 21 lonesome years until fate would bring these Lovers back together.
The Best of Me centers on Amanda and Dawson played in the present by Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden, while their 1992 versions are played by Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato. The Film switches between present and past but does so in a seamless manner. We first meet an Amanda who comes from a privileged Family, yet longing for a life not handed down to her by her Parents. We also meet a rough-around-the-edges Hillbilly in Dawson. The two Leads cross paths one fateful day when Amanda’s car breaks down at school, and Dawson comes to the rescue. The two make an instant connection, setting a date which he fails to show-up to. Having enough of his abusive Father, Dawson runs away, finding solace in Tuck’s (Gerald McRaney) garage. Both Dawson and Amanda develop a meaningful friendship with Tuck before growing apart sadly. Ironically, it also is the unfortunate passing of Tuck that brings these two once-Lovers back together and this is where the Story truly begins.
Of the several Sparks Adaptations to have made us teary-eyed, Marsden and Monaghan, as well as Liberato and Bracey completely are up to standard in terms of their performances, putting forth perhaps some of the best deliveries we have seen yet thanks to Audience-focused direction by Hoffman. The Leads – past and present – embrace what it means to be in love, giving us pure, unadulterated romantic bliss. Genre Fans certainly will get everything they hoped for and will not be disappointed.
eOne Films release The Best of Me on Friday, October 17th, 2014.