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  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is not a typical Nicholas Sparks adaptation.

    Yes, this film is cheesy, this film's corny, this film's cliché. But to judge this film based on that alone is to completely ignore the context and conventions of its genre. It's not a ground- breaking film by any means, but it is ground-breaking if we're talking about Romances, specifically Sparks adaptations.

    Anyone complaining about the typical formula (i.e., girl meets boy, girl's family doesn't like boy's family, the two lovers persevere, etc.) clearly hasn't seen this movie. Amanda (the female protagonist)'s father does fall into the typical mold of a disapproving, upper-class father who wants the boyfriend out of the picture so his daughter can have a bright future. But unlike a slew of other Romances (and even Sparks' own adaptations), he's in the film for a very, very brief amount of time. In fact, I'd go so far as to say he's not at all crucial to the film. If anything, his part was intended to play to the demographic and nothing else, which while regrettable, should say something about how this film stands up on its own without relying on clichés

    I noted that film deals with real-life issues. We see issues of class, family, and self-esteem illustrated much better than most Sparks adaptations I've seen. Sean Bridgers knocks it out of the park with his downright of patriarch and sociopath Tommy Cole, father of protagonist Dawson Cole. The Cole clan in particular - a gang of drug-dealing(?), abusive, sickos really deserving of the title "white trash" - brings this film to life. They represent a segment of society that we rarely ever get to see on screen. This film, unlike some of Sparks' other works, does not cast a glowing light on the White South, and instead we get to the gritty, shameful parts that actually made me forget what movie I was watching. On top of all that, we get to see the consequences of trying to break away from the most perverted "families" that are present in every-day life. We get to see how that cycle of anger, shame, and ostracism fuels the dirty (and violent) blood feuds that still exist in the underbelly of this country. Luke Bracey shows us what it's like for a young person dealing with this life, to have their ambitions silenced, and the true pain that comes with leaving one's family.

    Above all, this film speaks to regret. (Spoilers ahead) All the tragedies and hardships that meet the protagonists, unlike previous Sparks adaptations, actually don't pull them together. We do see some of that smarmy "Life's hard but we still love each other anyway" stuff throughout the film, but for once we get to see that narrative broken. Dawson's and Amanda's relationship gets tested, and for a while it goes on, but ultimately Dawson's predicament proves too dark for their relationship to hold out. It seems cliché for him to cut if off while in jail, but isn't that what we saw in The Hurricane (1999) and other great films? This is a film about love, and the sacrifice that Dawson makes is really believable considering that. After taking separate paths, both characters have to deal with that regret and questions of "what if?"

    The issue of casting is one that shouldn't be ignored, but one that can't rightly be criticized too much in the case of Marsden. The late Paul Walker, the original choice for Adult Dawson, would have bared more resemblance to Bracey, but we can't fault Marsden or anyone working on this film for having to deal with that circumstance. Marsden pulls it off in the end. Does he do it as well as Walker would have? We may never know, and it's pretty disrespectful to even ask the question, as many reviewers are doing. This film is what it is.

    The end (spoilers ahead) really tripped me up. Yes, it's so cliché that I couldn't believe it for a minute, but this film is about coincidences and fate, so after considering that, it's not fair to judge it based on statistics. This is a realm that crosses from the sordid into the miraculous. But really - and this is something I didn't even notice until after walking out of the theater - what really tested the limits of this genre was that this wasn't a happy ending. It was a bittersweet and somewhat cheesy ending, sure, but it wasn't happy. They don't end up together. The last notes are in a way quite comforting, but unresolved. Maybe some people don't like that, but I sure did. What happens to Amanda's son? Yes, he lives, but how does he feel about his parents' divorce? Did they even divorce? What happens to Aaron? And, by the way, Robby Rasmussen deserves a damned Oscar for playing two characters so well. What about Amanda? We aren't sure if she ever really moves on. What are her regrets? Does she have any regrets left at all, or maybe a whole new set of regrets?

    This film takes some getting used to and some further consideration beyond what's happening on the surface. On the surface, it's just another Romance, but it takes a little more thought. For being so panned for its formulaic nature, this film challenged a lot conventions not only followed by Sparks, but by the whole genre of Romance. It's interesting, to say the very least, and is well worth the watch.
  • I really enjoyed this movie, but I must give a disclaimer... I never read the book, so I can't base my rating on how accurately the movie follows the book. I found that this movie had a lot of twists in it and wasn't as predictable as most other romance movies. (Also, it didn't hurt that James Marsden is great to look at.) I thought the actress who played young Amanda was really good, and I loved seeing the story as the two were growing up & also in modern times. I'm not sure why this movie has gotten so much hate... I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and would even pay to see it again if I get the chance.

    I was not a fan of The Notebook, and would much rather watch this movie instead of The Notebook. Sure, the movies probably don't follow Nicholas Sparks' books super detailed, but they're good to watch if you're in the mood for a heartfelt love story.
  • ... which may not necessarily be a good thing.

    Oddly, you divide the two almost at the midway point, that is, the one hour mark.

    The first movie is a really sweet love story about lost love. It features a lot of flashbacks but luckily the actors playing the flashbacks and the actors playing 'real time' are all very competent, do a great job,the script works well, and the audience has a fun ride.

    If the first hour were a movie on its own, I would give it a very strong rating.

    However almost at the turn of the second hour (two hours BTW is much too long for this story) the connection between audience and viewer (this important factor discussed in many of my IMDb reviews) starts to fade as many story complications set in. And the script becomes lost in the various arcs.

    I will not go into the complications but let me say that by the "climax" of the last Act the viewer may wonder if he/she dozed off and woke up in front of the TV watching an episode of JUSTIFIED. Enough said.

    If the second hour were a movie on its own, I would give it a very low rating.

    As an entire movie as it now stands, this film can be a rough ride for the viewer, and that is not a good thing.

    Notes:

    * always happy to see Michelle Monaghan, an actress under-used these days. Real star quality.

    * Liana Liberato has a nice career ahead and better still actually looks like a young Michelle Monaghan, which is more than I can say of the casting choices for the male leads

    * here is a tip for casting directors. FACIAL RECOGNITION SOFTWARE. Help you avoid the problem of casting two actors playing the same role (one in flashback) WHO LOOK NOTHING AT ALL LIKE EACH OTHER
  • Following an explosion on his oil rig, Dawson (James Marsden) has a glimpse of the girl he loved from his teenage years. Elsewhere, Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) is home with her alcoholic husband and teenage son, wondering what went wrong in her life and thinking of her first true love. When the news that their old friend Tuck (Gerald McRaney) has passed away, Dawson and Amanda are reunited and assigned to spread Tuck's ashes. As well as confront the ghosts of their past from their youth.

    The film is an adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name. While I personally wasn't a huge fan of the novel, I found the film to be much better. The love story and history of the two lead characters and fleshed out more, as was the character of Tuck. While it did feature some major differences in the last act, it worked well. That aside, as a film, it is a very sweet love story (not as great as some of Sparks' prior films however). As we watch the story unfold between Amanda and Dawson as adults, we are given flashbacks to them as teenagers (played by Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato), which leads to where they find themselves today. Bracey and Liberato provide great performances as the younger Dawson and Amanda, they're great on their own, and have great chemistry to where we really buy them as couple. Bracey plays Younger Dawson with charm and innocence. Liberato shines as Younger Amanda. We initially see her as this pretty and bubbly girl, but she has an edge to her that Liberato shows off flawlessly. James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan play the older versions of the two characters. While the chemistry isn't nearly as concrete as the younger versions, we do get a decent feel of a relationship between the two. On their own, Monaghan gives the better performance of the two as a woman torn between the life of her past and the life she currently has. Marsden's performance, while not terrible, is hardly note-worthy. He definitely could have given more heart into the role as opposed to charm. One of the most note-worthy performances of the film however is Gerald McRaney as Tuck from the couple's younger years. We first see him as a hard-ass old man, but he grows to show his heart when these two teens come into his life. McRaney provides the most humor and heart in the story and easily becomes the most likable character in the movie. Like most Nicholas Sparks movies, it will only appeal to certain crowds. It has its really cheesy moments, but deep down there is a lot to its core, apart from dealing with love, it deals with life in general and where it takes us and where we can go from there.

    The Best of Me features decent to solid performances with heart-felt and tear-jerking moments. However in the long run it doesn't set itself too far apart from the Nicholas Sparks formula.

    My Rating: 8/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This had all the makings of a love story that could touch many people with nice performances all around. So why not have a happy ending and insure a much bigger box office? The story unfolded in flash back and present day rotation. It told the story of pair of star crossed lovers who through circumstance broke up and went their separate ways only to reunited 20 years later.

    The present day leads, the versatile James Marsden and the lovely Michelle Monaghan turn in deeply moving performance from a sentimental screenplay...one that could have played out nicely with the lovers living happily ever after. That wasn't to be and although there was an attempt to put a brave face on the ending, it wasn't what people wanted.

    Also,Luke Bracey, who plays the younger lead, looks as old as Marsden and a bit taller.
  • I was looking for a nice romantic flick to bring my girlfriend to so it could set the mood for the evening. Well, that plan failed and I ended up bringing my ex to the movies to see it instead. It really touched me in a deep way that no other love story has in the past. Sounds kinda corny, but for me, it touched on some areas. Well, needless to say, we held hands all during the movie and more later.

    Okay, so I read up on the reviews before coming to see this movie and they all made it sound like a boring box office flop, BUT reviews can be very deceiving because this was a diamond that was tarnished by viewers who had NO clue what a romantic flick this really is about! So my advice to you is to go and see it with an open mind and heart and let the movie just unveil itself to your heart and mind and see what happens... best wishes!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Yes, I am a boy. And gosh, I loved this movie so much. The romance were beautiful and oh-my so touching. But then, the directors had to screw it all up. Why not go for a happy ending? Why did he have to get shot? Why couldn't it just end with him beating up those two fellas and then take them to jail, and then get the love of his life? Why would you guys ruin such a nice movie with that ending? Well well. What can I say.

    I would have given this a 10/10 if it had a happy ending, but OH man. He died, she ended up alone and her son got his heart? What in the world. They belonged together, she gave up an 18 year old marriage for him, and then you took him away from her. Shame on you, shame on you.. Worst romance movie I've ever seen. Never do this again, thanks.
  • williche1919 October 2014
    Warning: Spoilers
    Honestly, I thought it was a wonderful movie! It was extremely sad but I thought it sends a great message. Even though I was very upset about how it ended after everything Amanda and Dawson had gone through. From being together even after their struggles with family and then losing each other, but then finding each other again, and then losing each other again. It was very difficult for my mom and I to keep our emotions in check. We both couldn't stop crying. But we are both very empathetic people, so I wouldn't expect anything less. It was still a great movie! I love the two main actors and it was great seeing some new actors on screen as well. I have never felt so touched and compelled by a story as much as The Best of Me from Nicholas Sparks! I feel that his books are usually about Life, Love, and Loss. I feel like that is what life is all about. I will be watching it again and reading the book! Thanks for a wonderful movie!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I watched this movie with my girlfriend and we were able to sit through it and enjoy the movie for what it was, but after we finished watching we just burst out in discussion about a lot of missed opportunities and strange inconsistencies in the film. The first thing that will grab your attention is one scene where they are talking while he tinkers with her car but puts his physics book down in the hood. You never see him remove it, so your mind races to think "hey maybe she'll give it to him later", but nope, never happens. On another note, it doesn't make sense to show one character to be drinking and about to drive, then in the very next scene have them go to the hospital due to an crash (drink and drive) that isn't that character, it's confusing.

    The movie takes a misleading turn towards the end like they ripped your heart out, and showed it to you while they drank the blood with a straw. The ending was sad, but one thing at the end really left me disappointed as it was going for a good ending (and it tugs you towards this constantly), but no it slams your hand in the door on the way in.

    I really enjoyed the performances of Tuck, the younger Dawson, and young Amanda. I really liked the way they went between time periods to unravel the story, but just it really derailed once they stopped doing that, and threw a curve ball right at your hip. I'd recommend it for the good bits, but I warn you that the inconsistent bits and the ending may feel very manipulative.
  • Good romantic films are almost as rare as good comedies. I really did not ask for anything special, as I like "chick flicks" and Hollywood has such a love affair with action movies, Hollywood has almost stopped making them. Nonetheless, I really disliked this one; because, even with the clichés, this movie had so much promise. The movie opens with a fine action sequence; and James Marsden is a really watchable actor. However, as soon as the parallel love stories begin, the movie falls apart. First of all "young Amanda" (Liana Liberato) not only does not look much like "older Amanda" (Michelle Monaghan), their body languages and acting styles are completely different. There is even a bigger disparity with "young Dawson" (Luke Bracey) and "older Dawson" (James Marsden). Thanks to terrific performances by Liana Liberato and Gerald McRaney, the flashback sequences are much more entertaining than the present sequences, even though Michael Hoffman's direction is much better in the present sequences. Hoffman shoots WAY too many of the flashback sequences as medium shots, when closeups would have been far better. Even the ending seems tacked on and trite.

    Except for Liana Liberato and Gerald McRaney, "The Best of Me" is anything but. I give "The Best of Me" a "5".
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The movie takes a direction for a happy ending, somehow they decided to change everything at the end with a new drama taken out of a hat. don't waste your time, not a good movie.

    There were a thousand possible outcomes for the story, with twists and changes, instead they opted for the saddest possible story which seems pushed and not in sync with the first 80 minutes of movie.

    The acting was so-so and they seem to fill a lot of time with information not important to the ending, they could have used that time to support their sad ending by relating the audience to the story behind the kid
  • I'm a big fan of Romantic movies and the odd cringey film but i found this so typical and predictable. For the first time ever even i managed to predict the end which wasn't worth the build up created by the rest of the film. During scenes that were supposed to be emotional and sad i found myself laughing at how unrealistic they were.

    The cast is slightly confusing. Maybe i can believe that the younger Amanda grows up to be Michelle Monaghan but i don't understand the thinking behind Young Dawson and James Marsden. Not only do they look nothing alike but Young Dawson doesn't even look young enough to be with Young Amanda.

    I found myself much preferring the scenes with the young Dawson and Amanda in comparison with the older cast because i just found them so annoying. Michelle Monaghan's character seemed far to perfect with the typical problems with her perfect life.

    Being the only two people in the cinema at the time, myself and my friend should have taken this as a hint. This is definitely no Notebook or Walk to remember.
  • petarmatic31 October 2014
    When my friend asked me out to see this film, I reluctantly agreed. I was very pleasantly surprised. My poor friend aged a lot over time, she looked for all of her life for a true love. She never found it. This film talks exactly about that. One of the lines mentioned is exactly that. Some people find true love, some look for it for whole of their lives and they never find it.

    Acting was OK for this type of film. Actors really tried their best to make this film work. Congratulations to them.

    Plot was nothing special, it was based on a book. It was OK for a romance film. I really liked it.

    I recommend this film, especially if you are looking for a romance film.
  • I believe all of Nicholas Sparks's movies are based on his books/novels, and they mostly center around Romance, Passion, and Tragedy. Sparks must be running out of ideas because to sum it up, "The Best of Me" was wayyyyyy to long, very predictable, and monotone to the point that it was listless.

    Due to the fact this movie was so drawn out, I had such a lack of interest, that while I was watching it, I was thinking about all sorts of things, like what I'm going to do the next day, what to pick up at the store. The producers dragged out the flashback scenes in a way that you had no idea as far as the direction of this movie. There was no correlation regarding the younger lead male character and that person twenty years later.

    The ending: Even though I was half concentrating on this movie, I still predicted the outcome regarding the conclusion.

    Nicholas Sparks has had some great movies "The Notebook", "A Walk to Remember", Dear John", but I would recommend taking a pass regarding "The Best of Me".
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Okay, I have to say that as a fairly grounded and realistic 54-year- old, I'm not all that into romantic movies, but my 14-year-old daughter wanted to see it. Nice eye candy in the actors, the houses and interiors are beautiful, but I found the movie pretty predictable throughout. Plus there were a lot of holes (ar, ar, no pun intended) so I kept wondering things like, shouldn't he have closed the window after he broke into the garage when it was raining? and if this is Louisiana, where are all the water bugs? (Not to mention, where are all the African-American people?)

    On the other hand, my daughter was a sobbing mess when it was over, so it worked for her.

    Choose accordingly.
  • MattBrady09927 October 2014
    Thank god this movie flopped at the box office, because this is just romance porn all over it.

    The story is about a couple who were once an item in high school find themselves meeting back up after each returns to their small home town.

    It took me a while to sit through this movie and boy did it take a while. But after seeing it... I want my time back, because this is one of the worst romance movies I've seen this year. You know those really bad cliché romance movies with no excitement just boring and uninspiring story that's been done a thousand times, well this movie takes the cake from being the worse of the worse. Name every bad romance cliché that you could think of right now, well it's all in this crappy movie.

    Some of the acting in this movie is so bland and so forgettable. The story in this is so dull and so uninspiring; and the story itself has been done before loads of times in other bad romance movies. Every minute of this movie feels like a punch to the face to the movie lovers. Soon after I finished this review, after I click enter I'm going to forget the all film in one click of a button.

    The only good thing this movie was Michelle Monaghan, and that's it; the movie blows.
  • OK.. let's face it: I'm not a huge fan of romantic dramas. But this was just awful, even in that genre! The "plot" was at the same time predictable, fake and random in a totally non-believable way. It was the cheesiest thing I've ever been forced to watch. Even the acting got worse and worse as the movie went on. I love Michelle Monaghan, but it feels like she gave up on the movie and mailed in her performance. James "Superman" Marsden was like a bad TV soap actor and young Liana Liberato's over-acting was painful to watch at times. I'm sure she's a gifted actress but seems like no one directed this disaster. With a bit of guidance from the director and cutting some of the useless daytime-drama plot turns out of it, it could've been a half way decent "chick flick". Unless you're a 13-year old girl, who has never seen a single movie, I totally advice you NOT to waste your time.
  • elenafoster7 May 2015
    Warning: Spoilers
    So I enjoyed watching James Marsden as I always do. But...I agree with the other reviews in that the young and old Dawson did not look ANYTHING alike. This was really distracting. There is a line in the movie where the Amanda comments that Dawson had gotten better looking. I thought this was humorous. Also, Nicholas Sparks is so predictable. There is always rain, water, a letter of some sort, cancer, Daddy disapproves of the boyfriend, etc etc. I could see the ending coming like a very very slow train. I found myself saying "NO!" out loud to the TV screen! Actors did a great job, but the plot was cliché. Perhaps if the screenwriters could have somehow fixed the story a bit...this would have been a better movie.
  • tomarenich10 January 2015
    Warning: Spoilers
    I haven't read the book so I can't judge if the movie is better or worse. I can say though that Best of Me shouldn't be judged for plenty predictable turns. It's a love story after all, no matter how hard you try, it will end up as a story about love between two people.

    So it is predictable, but it's a well filmed beautiful love story, with plenty of lovely shots and quite good acting. Still, I can't say that the script was well done and here's why. (Be careful, huge spoilers to come). We can predict from the start that this love story won't have a happy ending. So many things in dialogs are completely unnecessary. For example, when Amanda got a call from her son, we can figure out that something is going to happen just because he calls. She doesn't have to say anything about bad drivers and all that. Basically, in that moment we can stop watching the movie because that's exactly the moment where we find out the final, not in the actual end of the film. And there are quite many moments like that, unfortunately.

    But all in all, it's a good drama, and I bet everyone with a heart cried at least a bit in the end, no matter how much he figured out before. And that's what this movie is all about, it's not a rule breaker but quite solid film which honestly follows rules of classical love drama.
  • I predicted every move, every turn every "next moment", it was THAT predictable. But, I predicted the ending as a joke.........and it was !
  • Nicholas Sparks is a very dramatic author. Most of his stories end in heartache if not all. He's not one of my favorite authors but I love the movies based on his books. I'm a sucker for old school romance.

    This movie in particular is so close to my heart, it's the first movie my husband and I watched with our friends after our marriage. It's so romantic and so sad but a good wakeup call to those who always choose wrong in life especially in the matrimonial department.

    After all it's not about money, wealth or other people. It's about the person you love and trust the most. The person that brings out the best of you.
  • So my movie theatre-working friend was getting off from work in the afternoon today and he wanted to see another movie before going to his sister's house to watch the New Orleans-Green Bay football game there. So this was what we ended up seeing. I once again decided to humor him and to tell the truth, this was quite enjoyable despite some familiar clichés like bad boy-liking-good girl-who-he-has-to-break up-with-because-of-his-roots (well, there was more than that but you get the idea). The fact this was filmed and takes place in our home state of Louisiana was a plus for me and my friend as we recognized some town names being mentioned and certain car window stickers in the film. Yes, it's based on a Nicholas Sparks book and it has what you'd possibly expect from him. Still, by the time it all ended, we were both touched by what happened. So on that note, The Best of Me is worth a look.
  • Dawson (James Marsden) and Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) reunite after 20-years apart. They were teenage lovers, but life interfered and each went their separate way. They are brought together again via their friend Tuck (Gerald McRaney) who took a liking to both and a sort of protective father to the young Dawson (Luke Bracey), who was subjected to an abusive father Tommy Cole (Sean Bridges).

    This is a very good love story and you will need a box of Kleenex to get through it. Maybe two. All this works due to the performance of the younger Amanda (Liana Liberato) who is full of life, love and perception. and who we see in flashbacks with the younger Dawson. When we see the older Amanda we remember the younger Amanda and hope we see some of the younger Amanda in her. Takes a while but we do see that from time to time.

    But Liberato's performance trumps all because we are constantly reminded of her strong performance throughout regardless of what younger or older version of her we see. I don't think this movie would have the impact it has if it were not for Liana Liberato. Yes, I am a big fan. An Oscar for Liana Liberato? Definitely. The chemistry between the younger Dawson and the younger Amanda is pure gold mostly because of the younger Amanda. Hey, still a fan (we see that).

    There are some bumps along the way for both the younger and older Dawson with Tommy the abusive father and Dawson's brothers. Even though these are the bad guys in here they did a bang up job.

    We see a lot of Tuck throughout in flashbacks and wish he was in the present, but he leaves the cabin to both of them in the hope they would reunite as he knew the hardships both have endured and he also knew they loved each other. I wouldn't mind if Gerald McRaney got an Oscar nod too as he was exceptional in here.

    There is a twist in here and when you see it, you should already be on that 2nd Kleenex box.

    The entire cast performed exceedingly well, but you will remember the younger Amanda for a long, long time (still a fan, I see). Hey, I'm serious about that Kleenex box. Actually two. (10/10)

    Violence: Yes. Sex: Yes. Nuidity: No. Language: Yes, some not much.
  • The story line is worthless and you walk away hating the movie, because of the story line. Everything that can happen bad, happens to these two and in the end they are destroyed again......not one positive happens to them in this story. Books and movies are supposed to be entertainment. Yes you can have some bad in movies to, but the whole thing? It's like, you meet your love of your life and she dies, then she's reincarnated and you find each other again and you die and then the kids die and then the cheating husband walks away rich......it's like why would anyone want to watch this. This is not entertainment, this is solely an attempt to make a tear jerker on top of a tear jerker and all they succeed at is making you mad at how disturbingly sadistic the story line is destroying their lives over and over again.
  • Yes, I am a straight man, and yes, it is true, I love The Notebook. It is easily my favorite romantic movie and I like most of Nicholas Sparks' film adaptations (minus Dear John, don't get me started on that). That being said I was excited to get to see this film in advance so I could tell people about it before it even came out.

    The Best of Me fell way short of the typical Sparks adaptations. It was so cheesy it hurt to watch. Sure this is the way most romance movies are done now, but at least most films find a way to do them more discretely. Some of the lines were so blatantly stupid that I just couldn't help but laugh, even when all of the older women around me were bawling their eyes out.

    The story and acting were just okay, nothing new really, other than a few twists that were poorly executed. Maybe it didn't help that I had just seen Gone Girl the night before, but still the film was just cheesy and bland and I expected something much better.
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