WHEN A STORY OVERCOMES ITS CLICHES
by Pablo A. Tariman
I am not a follower of Nicholas Sparks and his popular output but once in a while, I set aside literary bias over his works and try to enjoy movie adaptations based on his bestselling books.
Earlier, I had no problem watching The Notebook and I rather liked the story enough to make sense of the actors portraying the characters in the popular book.
I review films not to flaunt my taste and castigate those below the level of one’s film appreciation credentials. I like to follow the story and appreciate it for what it has to offer. But most of all, I want to share my humanity and my foibles, sheer gullibility and all.
For indeed, some of the time I am resigned to the fact that I am not reading an adaptation of War and Peace or Anna Karenina. Surely, you had better days reading good works and in another setting, you are downhearted how the film version massacred the essence of your favorite books.
Watching another movie adaptation of Sparks’ The Choice, I set aside what the literary arbiters think about it and what the seasoned cineastes have to say about it.
In my book, you can learn from good movies as you can imbibe something from the bad ones.
I got my first good vibes when the later part of the opening scenes show medical student Gabby Holland (Teresa Palmer) reviewing with Bach suites playing in the background (I was prepared to accept the other expectation that the medical student was also a cellist).
Meanwhile, she is alarmed when her background music is challenged by a neighbor Travis Shaw (Benjamin Walker) who plays his own brand of pop music at neighborhood plaza level.
Some subsequent encounters find Holland constantly irritated and then the subconscious attraction begins. In the hospital where she does on the job training, she finds out he is a veterinarian and a damn good and dedicated one.
She needed him when her pet gives birth and liking what he did, she hosts an instant intimate dinner that fully compensated the attraction but didn’t exactly elicited true love. Same for the lady.
But the good looking veterinarian knows what he wants and how to get it. He is sure about his feeling and she is reluctant to even admit she is falling in love. Her parents know she is and then she is pushed to say yes to a marriage proposal that changed her life.
Then the wedding takes place, they beget children but an accident — partly caused by a husband who didn’t show up in the dinner date — changed the romantic scenario.
She is comatose for days the hubby actually had visions visiting her grave.
But then she comes to life and everyone lives happily ever after.
Director Ross Katz knows how to keep the narrative interesting and manages to throw in some genuinely poignant moments.
There are hints of the changing season as the love story jumps from one transition to another. In some parts, it looked contrived. But on the whole, you see how people’s lives rhyme with nature and how people cope even after the ravages of nature. Those frames of placid lakes and infinite skies in between the lovers’ get-together provide mature “kilig” moment.
What I am saying is that you can enjoy movies even with foreign critics telling you to avoid it.
I enjoyed the flow of the story, I like the acting and I like how it all ended.
Of course, both critics and audiences have their own individual ideas on how to treat Nicholas Sparks’ materials.
You go to the movies to savor good moments.
I had my share of it in The Choice.
I like movies which give me a slice of life from directors who had their taste of it all.
For this reason, I like to recommend The Choice for what it is.
The actors did well and so did the animals, especially the veterinarian’s pet named Moby.
The Choice is now showing in cinemas.