The Best of Me – Review

Considering it only took three movies before M. Night Shyamalan’s cinematic gimmick of employing a twist became ripe for parody, it’s interesting that Nicholas Sparks adaptations – which have made decent bank ever since 2004’s The Notebook – have thus far failed to be tarred with the same brush for utilising the “twistedy”, a sort of twist/tragedy hybrid that seems to cap off each and every film based on the writer’s various drippy works.

Utilising the twisted gimmick once more, The Best Of Me might be the most apt title for a Sparks adaptation yet; serving as a sort of “best of” compilation for the writer’s various (and extremely worn) tropes. Less a film and more of a “spot the cliché” exercise, it follows an estranged star-crossed lovers (Marsden and Monaghan) who are reunited after twenty years to mourn an elderly friend’s passing. As their past is laid out in flashback, the elder pair soon begin to uncover forgotten feelings, forcing them to assess their current lives and decide what it is that truly makes them happy.

Storywise, it’s been done to death a million times before; most prominently through Sparks adaptations over the decade past. Directorially, it bears an uncanny resemblance to a life insurance ad; and on the performance front, literally every cast member struggles to maintain their dignity in the face of some of the worst writing to befall cinema since (fittingly enough) the last Sparks movie, Safe Haven.

The twistedy this time around may be Sparks’ most forced to date, the dialogue avoids the dizzying low of Safe Haven’s “the moon is positively transcendent” by instead having every second line read infinitely worse, and if Luke Bracey isn’t the single worst piece of casting for a movie in 2014, then I’d posit that the death of traditional filmmaking is closer than we think.

By even Nicholas Sparks’ standards, The Best Of Me represents a new and bitterly patronising low; with an embarrassed cast and goddawful script ensuring the film is tolerable only to the likes of particularly bored housewives likely to stumble across it on Netflix six months from now.


Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.


In it
James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Luke Bracey
Behind it
Michael Hoffman

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