The Best Of Me (12A)



Romance (2014)
118mins US

Starring: Michelle Monaghan, Schuyler Fisk, Luke Bracey, James Marsden, Liana Liberato
Director: Michael Hoffman
Writer(s): Michael Hoffman, Will Fetters, J Mills Goodloe
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

At high school, Dawson Cole and Amanda Collier fall head over heels in love but it's a forbidden romance because she is a good girl from a prominent family bound for college and he has the misfortune to be born into a viper's nest of criminals. A tragic accident separates the lovers. Twenty years later, Dawson returns to his hometown to honour a friend's dying wish and he crosses paths with Amanda, who is now married. The spark of attraction still burns bright.

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LondonNet Film Review
The Best Of Me (12A)

Nicholas Sparks' hopelessly romantic fictions are catnip to Hollywood. Just as fast as the bestselling American novelist can churn out another heart-tugging tale of love lost and found (and lost again), film-makers immortalise the yearning and heartache with as much gloss as they can muster. In 2012, Zac Efron flexed in a tight-fitting vest opposite Taylor Schilling for The Lucky One. The following year, Josh Duhamel's hunky widower protected Julianne Hough's battered beauty in Safe Haven. Now, James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan stare dreamily into each other's twinkling eyes for this swoonsome yarn about two childhood sweethearts gifted a second chance at happiness when they least expect it...

The Best Of Me. Copyright: Gemma LaMana/2014 Best Of Me Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Caption: James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan star in Relativity Media's The Best Of Me. Photo: Gemma LaMana. Copyright: 2014 Best Of Me Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Sparks has been writing to a predictable, winning formula for years and director Michael Hoffman keeps to the same well-trodden path signposted with regret and guilt as he cuts between timeframes two decades apart. It's the kind of film in which the handsome and chiselled hero proclaims his undying devotion and the heroine replies, all dewy-eyed and glossy-lipped: "You want me to fall back in love with you? How can I do that if I never stopped?" How indeed... At high school, Dawson Cole (Luke Bracey) and Amanda Collier (Liana Liberato) fall head over heels in love. Alas, it's a forbidden romance because she is a good girl with wealthy parents (Jon Tenney, Caroline Goodall) and aspirations to attend college and he has the misfortune to be born into a viper's nest of criminals ruled by the slippery and abusive Tommy Cole (Sean Bridgers). A tragic accident separates the teenage lovebirds and they embark on different paths.

Twenty years later, Dawson (now played by James Marsden) receives a telephone call from lawyer Morgan Dupree (Clarke Peters) to inform him that his good friend and surrogate father Tuck Hostetler (Gerald McRaney) has died. Dawson ventures back to his home town to honour Tuck's dying wish and finds that the deceased has sneakily arranged for Amanda (Michelle Monaghan), who is now married, to help scatter the ashes. "We're not here for a reunion, we're here for Tuck," Amanda reminds Dawson. The spark of attraction between the couple still burns bright and Dawson and Amanda wrestle with their feelings as they honour the memory of a man they both held dear.

The Best Of Me is gooey and emotionally manipulative, building to the inevitable moment when the central characters must decide their fates. Marsden and Monaghan are a good-looking pairing. So too are Bracey and Liberato's younger incarnations although he looks too old to convincingly pass for 18. Someone at the high school should check Dawson's birth certificate. Screenwriters Will Fetters and J Mills Goodloe regurgitate dialogue from the book with due reverence. Love is a many-splendoured, yet unapologetically cliched, thing.

- Sam Cannon

The Best Of Me. Copyright: Gemma LaMana/2014 Best Of Me Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Caption: James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan star in Relativity Media's The Best Of Me. Photo: Gemma LaMana. Copyright: 2014 Best Of Me Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


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