Movie review: The Best of Me (2014)

“You want me to fall back in love with you? How do I do that if I haven’t ever stopped?”

It’s time to have a crack at some movie reviews…

(WARNING POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD)

Now for me, this is a dream come too. I’m a film fanatic and I dare not say how many DVD’s and Blu Ray’s I currently own, it’s shameful. Who am I kidding? I’m proud of it.

The Best of Me (2014) Movie Review 

A vital tool for me when going about watching movies is the almighty website and app, IMDb. The International Movie Database. If you haven’t heard of IMDb, you’ve been living under a rock. This website (well app, because I always use it on my phone) is of upmost importance to me. It allows me to look at trailers, facts and triviva and so on and so fourth.  Therefore if you don’t know what The Best of Me is, here’s what IMDb has to say about it:

IMDB: The Best of Me

(2014) – PG-13 – 118 Minutes – Drama, Romance / Rating: 6.6/10

“A pair of former high school sweethearts reunite after many years when they return to visit their small hometown.” 

Stars: James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Luke Bracey (and more).

Now in my opinion, The Best of Me….

I’d gone from not hearing anything about this film to suddenly hearing about it constantly for two nights running from different people. On the second night my friend popped up and said “Have you ever watched The Best of Me? You need to watch it, it’s right up your street!”, now this person knows me well so I had no reason to doubt them. It was around midnight and I thought “Why not? I have nothing to do tomorrow” so I stayed up until the early hours to watch this mystery film.

When it first started I didn’t know the turn this film was going to take, I couldn’t see the journey it was following. Now this is unusual for me. I’ve watched countless Drama/Romances and I can always call the plot before the opening titles have come on. However with this film, it caught me off guard. It seemed different from the get go. It’s based off the book written by Nicholas Sparks who wrote one of the most famous romance films, ‘The Notebook’ and also ‘The Lucky One’, two fantastic films. My misconception was that it’d be very similar to these films and in some respects, it was, but it still threw me. 

The film focuses on protagonist characters Dawson and Amanda and continously bounces between future and past tence. Therefore, you have younger Dawson and Amanda and then older Dawson and Amanda. Casting for these characters were very interesting. For older Dawson and Amanda there was James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan. Marsden I’d knew from ‘The Notebook’ and ‘Sex Drive’ two contridicting roles, therefore, I didn’t know how well he’d pull of this role as a hopeless, stuck-in-love man, living alone and working 24/7. Monaghan I knew purely from ‘Source Code’ and I fell in love with her from that role but never heard of her again until this film – even though it took me a while to realise it was her. This role was deeper than the one in that film and I couldn’t say I had any expectations or thoughts on how she’d approach this role but she pulled it off well. Moving on from them, we can look at their younger selves. Dawson’s younger self was played by an actor I’d never heard of before, Luke Bracey. From looking at his IMDb profile he’s become very famous quite recently. His career kicked off in 2009 on Home and Away and then went onto some big names in movies and then appeared here. I wasn’t keen on him at first, I don’t know what it was, his acting just didn’t seem up to scratch and as the movie went on I felt it stayed at the same pace. Amanda’s younger self was played by Liana Liberato who I purely knew from her role in ‘If I Stay’ (another fantatic film). In this she was a protagonist so I was enthusiastic to see how she’d play the role and how well she took to it and I can promise you, she did not disappoint. Finally whilst we are focusing on characters, another ‘protagonist’ (who is the person that is the reason for bringing back the two ‘lovers’) is Gerald McRaney who I only recognised from the ‘A-Team’ with Bradley Cooper and others. It’s fair to say I was pleased with the cast. They all exceeded expectations.

I approached the film curiously more than desire to watch. Though, I do love a good soppy romance film. To give a little more detail: the story focuses on Dawson and Amanda as they are reunited through the death of an old friend ‘Tuck’ (McRaney). They are brought back as they are mentioned in his will as he wants them to sort out his possessions and ‘see him off’ and have his little plan of bringing them back together to ‘remind them’ of how much ‘they loved each other’. It’s deeper than that and if you watch the film you’ll understand. If you hadn’t already guessed it, you see their lives from one they younger as it bounces from the future to the past. The future having a problem or a memory and the past showing what caused it or what it was. Of course Dawson (Marsden/Bracey) came from a rough background, unloving family who treated him terrible and was took under the wing of Tuck after running away from home. Amanda (Monaghan/Liberato) came from a wealthy family but loved the ‘rough’ and ‘silent’ type – though she loved his intelligence and more. One is from a rough ground, the other from a wealthy one, am I talking about ‘The Best of Me’ or ‘The Notebook’? Come on Nicholas Sparks, mix it up. As the film progresses we are seeing how they fall in love with each other, spend all this time together, she loves him, he loves her, they have a happy life living with Tuck. Tuck protects Dawson from his ‘killer’ family and Amanda’s family is trying to ‘pay off’ Dawson to never see Amanda again. Drama, drama, drama. Continious themes and what not that we all know, love and recognise. I would never give away the ending in any spoiler. However, the ending brought me to tears. Happy or sad? You’ll never know! There was a definite twist at the end and watching it early in the morning, whilst sleep deprived, was not a good idea. It’s a fantastic story line. Marsden plays his character brilliantly – he portrays himself as strong and chisled by what life has thrown at him (until the miracle, oh did I not mention? You’ll find that out!) and after the miracle he searches from his last chance at happiness. Amanda also portrays her character as chisled by what life has brought her or her decisions – it’s a difficult one to tell. Bracey felt a bit flat at times and didn’t always mirror Marsdens characteristics, therefore, there was a certain detachment between them where as Liberato played her role perfectly and this time Monaghan sort of led of her performance and portrayal and showed the later stage of this young girls life so fantastically. It felt real. 

This is my first movie review, how am I doing?

I won’t give anymore away about the story, all I’d do is urge you to go watch it. If you live soppy romances like me, this will fit right with you. Just check it out and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

It’s a gripping story that will definitely tug at your heart strings.

You can find the trailer here. / The movies IMDb page.

My personal rating: 8/10

More movie reviews to follow.

Photo Credit: mikefats via Compfight cc

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George Burton

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