We’ll I’m sure Hollywood thinks it does. According to my research not one of the seven Nicholas Sparks film adaptations has been a financial loss. Which is an achievement considering the horror film that is ‘Nights in Rodanthe”, seeing Richard Gere eat another person’s face is truly terrifying. That man can not do an on screen kiss to save his life. In fact every film including the modest ‘A Walk to Remember’ grossed at least 20 million dollars profit, the most successful of all of them of course being ‘The Notebook’ which grossed more that 115 million. That film also has the pleasure of making women unsatisfied with their partners for life, introducing the talented and insanely beautiful Ryan Gosling to the the female population’s fantasies.
Financially, the Sparks effect has already worked it’s magic and ‘The Lucky One’ is currently 20 million in dollars in profit and with more rolling in. But the real question is, where does this film rank from the glorious ‘The Notebook’ to the hideous ‘Nights in Rodanthe’.
First off all Nicholas Sparks movies have one thing in common, someone dies, in most of the best ones it’s the main characters like ‘A Walk To Remember’ or both characters like ‘The Notebook’ but ‘The Lucky One’ kills off a rather less vital character and I am grateful. With all the trauma in the two characters lives I really didn’t think another death was going to develop their characters only send them into a self destructive tail spin.
Zac Efron is great as the quiet, beautiful solider and for me really achieved the cross over I’m sure he was hoping for, from teen heart throb to leading man. Playing a character who is 25, dating an older women and seemingly wiser than his years, Zac is a man not a boy and holds his own.
Because the dialogue isn’t great the film really works best when it’s silent, which it often is and the beautiful shots of the country and of brooding Zac create a peaceful feeling in the viewer, which endeared this film to me above anything else. Australian director Scott Hicks creates a lovely sense of place in this film which really enforces the characters idyllic and simple lives, letting you escape into them like all good films should.
Taylor Schilling is less convincing as Elizabeth a women grieving for the loss of her brother in Afghanistan. While only 27 in real life she looks like she is 33 and feels a bit too old for Zac’s character. Given she is a bit of a bitch to Zac for a large majority of the film, it’s hard to imagine what he actually see’s in her. Apart from the fact that he found her photo in Afghanistan.
While I found Zac to be very good, I didn’t really feel the chemistry between the leads and given the storyline is slim, the main characters really needed to set the screen on fire. The dangers keeping couple apart are too easily over come and Elizabeth’s abusive ex husband doesn’t really seem like much of a threat given that Zac’s character is a marine.
All in all I’d rank this film as better than ‘The Last Song’ but worse than ‘A Walk To Remember and no where near as good as ‘The Notebook’. I’d recommend it for a peaceful afternoon of perving but little else.