Film Notes: “The Best of Me”

Film Notes: “The Best of Me”
LOVE IN ANOTHER TIME, IN EARLIER TIME

by Pablo A. Tariman

Love stories on film come and go and indeed they come by the dozens.

Producers buy book rights in the hope of getting instant following but trouble is most viewers want a film rendering as faithful to the book as possible.

Which is not possible because film and book outputs are two different media outlets altogether.

The book is a writer’s medium while film belongs to the director and cinematographer. The writer on film only serves as guideposts for the filmmaker.

Liana Liberato as the young Amanda and Luke Bracey as the young Dawson Cole in "The Best of me." They carved a  very sensual portrayal of young love.

Liana Liberato as the young Amanda and Luke Bracey as the young Dawson Cole in “The Best of me.” They carved a very sensual portrayal of young love.

For this reason, one watched the American romantic drama, “The Best of Me” without bothering to read Nicholas Sparks’ 2011 novel which carries the title of the film.

It serves you right because if you didn’t read the book, you end up not making too much demand on the filmmaker.

Book readers are known to kibitz about why the novel didn’t end up this way and that way in the film version and why the heroes and heroines didn’t look like the characters described in the book.

One likes to think of a film as purely director’s prerogative although he has to work as hard to please the novel’s fanatic followers.

For what it is worth, the film is about love in another time and in earlier time. The present time is portrayed by James Marsden as the mature Dawson Cole and Michelle Monagham as the present-day Amanda Collier.

They met in what looks like an inauspicious time and in this meeting, they were civil and wary of the fact that the once young lady who was a high school sweetheart is now married and a dutiful mother and wife.

Through intermittent encounters, they figure out what went wrong and what individual paths they took. But as the earlier relationship puzzle gets clear as to why one abandoned the other, they realize the once young love is still there and is ready to be consumed by passion.

Liana Liberato as the young Amanda and Luke Bracey as the young Dawson Cole provide very sensual portrayal of young love. They are fairly natural actors for the part but for the most part, one could sense they were cast for their bodies as much as for their innate acting abilities.

Indeed, they were young and passionate but they simply were not meant to be. Things get in the way and as they pick up their individual lives after they part ways, here they are meeting again after 20 years.

James Marsden as the mature Dawson Cole and Michelle Monagham as the present-day Amanda Collier in "The Best of Me."  Highly passionate actors for the part

James Marsden as the mature Dawson Cole and Michelle Monagham as the present-day Amanda Collier in “The Best of Me.” Highly passionate actors for the part

Marsden and Monagham have the looks of lovers who have matured through the years and together they provide the spontaneous flow of passion interrupted by indecisiveness. They recall their once young love with detachment and find out where they went wrong.

For once, they kiss and embrace and the fire of young love is still there. But they realize they didn’t have to break a family to pursue that love.

Composer Aaron Zigman’s film scoring kept the flow of the story on an even keel and avoiding notes that will make the scene mushy.

Oliver Stapleton’s cinematography capture the purity of young love as much as it makes subtle lines and shots that usher the coming of age of the once young lovers.

“The Best of Me” is a passionate love story simply told and the ending makes one of those unpredictable revelations that show the power of love that can longer be.

This film has no “kilig” moments to titillate teeners but its tale of love in another time and an earlier time will, as the cliché goes, is sure to warm the cockles of your heart.

Maturity characterizes Michael Hoffman’s direction and it is to his credit that this love story didn’t end up cloying and insurmountable.

Rightly or wrongly, it is a film that can make us look back on our own youthful love. It will make us wonder where the dictates of the heart brought us and where maturity took the better of us.

“The Best of Me” is now showing in all theaters.

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