The Choice film review: too sappy for anyone but Harlequin Love devotees

The Choice film review: too sappy for anyone but Harlequin Love devotees

Aleesha Matharu @almatharu

If you're up for a staggeringly corny watch, this film is for you. If you don't have the patience to wade through an ocean of sentimentality, this film will make you want to throw up constantly.

This one, directed by Ross Katz, is apparently the 11th big-screen adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' novels - and somehow I can only remember The Notebook.

I checked out Rotten Tomatoes to see what the others were, so here's a quick hit list of what you get when Sparks hits theatres:

The Longest Ride (31%)

The Best of Me (8%)

Safe Haven (12%)

The Lucky One (20%)

This latest is another Sparks movie with little-to-no stakes. The Choice tells the story of a guy and girl who don't like each other at first. Then they like each other. Then the girl has another interest. Then they like each other again. Then they like each some more. Then she gets in an accident. Then things that are supposed to make you cry, but really seem just silly, happen.

Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) plays Travis, a Southern charmer leading a glossy existence on the North Carolina coast, all boat outings with friends and rib eyes on the grill back at his shoreline cottage. With a huge, adorable dog. He's a commitment-phobic veterinarian who's in an off-and-on relationship with the flighty Monica (Alexandra Daddario).

The racket from all this easy livin' draws the ire of med student Gabby (Teresa Palmer), Travis's new neighbour. Gabby also resides with a faithful dog, and we know how serious and important her studies are to her because she wears glasses when she's studying.

She's also the new nurse in town, and she's in demand, as Dr McCarthy (Brett Rice) keeps telling her. But it turns out he may be biased, since Gabby's present beau is his son, fellow well-to-do doctor Ryan McCarthy (Tom Welling).

After some 80 minutes of the obligatory Sparks' tripe, Gabby eventually chooses Travis over Ryan, just as the synopsis, the poster and the first three minutes revealed. The second (non) choice is Travis' to make.

If you can't immediately guess that Travis' big "choice" not only has something to do with Gabby's life (which obviously hangs in the balance), but with how his own will all turn out, then this movie was made for you.

Saving grace?

the choice movie review embed

A still from the film

Walker and Palmer go through their formulaic paces with the sort of enthusiasm. It's not terrible.

Among the supporting cast, Two-time Oscar nominee Tom Wilkinson adds gravitas in the role of Travis' widowed father who can barely muster up the courage to ask a clearly interested woman out on a date, and Maggie Grace offers twinkly-faced optimism as Travis' supportive sister.

The screenplay by Bryan Sipe throws every romance cliche into the mix, from a sick dog to a missed romantic dinner.

North Carolina is a character in itself, particularly its marshy coastline and sprawling waterways. Cinematographer Alar Kivilo shoots the lapping waves and swaying reeds like they're starring in a travel video.

The verdict

Most likely, The Choice is perfect for anyone looking for a fix of romance that is entirely divorced from reality. Most likely, that includes anyone who is a fan of Nicholas Sparks' books or past movies based on them. Or Harlequin Romance devotees.

Basically, if you've seen one film adapted from a Nicholas Sparks book, you've seen them all.

RATING: 2 out of 4

Aleesha Matharu

Aleesha Matharu @almatharu