Starring: Zac Effron, Taylor Schilling, Blythe Danner, Riley Thomas Stewart, Jay R Ferguson, Adam LeFevre, and more.
Directed by: Scott Hicks Screenplay by: Will Fetters Based on the Novel by: Nicholas Sparks Original Music by: Mark Isham and Hal Lindes Cinematography by: Alar Kivilo
Premise: A marine dealing with PTSDs and survivor's guilt, searches out the woman in a photograph he found while on tour, believing he owes her for his survival on his third go round. The woman, in turn, is still wracked with grief over the death of her brother as well as other complications in her life. (Rated PG-13)
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Zac Effron and Taylor Schilling were fun to watch. At first closed up and unemotional, the actors slowly shed the layers of protection they'd placed around themselves as they finally deal with their different issues. Riley Thomas Stewart was adorable as Beth's son, Ben. The depth Jay R Ferguson added to what could have been the typical bully part was admirable. His scene in the church spoke volumes and gave a glimpse into his character no one suspected.
2) Special Effects - Thumbs Up: While not the type of film that would require a lot of special effects, the beginning of the story was in Iraq, so some gun play and explosions were involved. In one specific instance, an explosion was done in slow motion, skipping back and forth between characters, and the techniques used on Effron for some of the blow-back on that was fun to watch.
3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: You don't expect a lot of surprises with this kind of film, yet there were a couple, so that was quite refreshing. A lot of standard tropes were used to indicate the PTSDs and a few other things, but there were also several surprising ways they chose to share certain aspects of the story as well, which made up for it.
I very much enjoyed the added depth given to the token bully/adversary towards the end of the film, making the character of Keith more of a real person. He, like the rest of those in the movie, was human, and learned and made mistakes with everyone else. He too was looking for something he'd not yet found.
The story is told slowly, with details revealed with each passing day, so it might seem to crawl to some. Personally, I can quite enjoy a leisurely paced progression as long as I am given more and more to think on as we go along and this film definitely did that.
Hanky Warning: If you're prone, like me, to tears at movies, make sure to bring a handkerchief or two. You'll need them for this film. You can't help but feel empathy for all parties involved.
4) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: If you have ever had any inclination to move to Louisiana but haven't done it, this film will make you get up and move there immediately. There were lots of utterly beautiful shots in this film. Great job!
Conclusion: If you like this type of film, you'll love this one. I feel it has enough there to satisfy male audiences, but they probably won't go willingly. Fans of Zac Effron will be quite pleased.
Rating: 4 out of 5 (No Hubby rating as he's out of town working.)