Gambit director Michael Hoffman brings yet another Nicholas Sparks cringe-fest to the big screen in the form of The Best of Me. Another contrived piece of romantic fluff that sure enough ticks every love flick cliché there has ever been, think of this as The Notebook 2 without Mr Ryan “dreamboat” Gosling.
The Best of Me is a tale of young lovers, Dawson and Amanda, who reconnect in later life to find out that they are still hopelessly in love with one another. Go figure, right? Split between the present day and 21 years previously, a young Dawson (played by Luke Bracey) is a shy, yet very charming – and surprisingly bright – lad from a rough family, whilst the teenage Amanda (Liana Liberato) is a pretty blonde from the rich side of town. Are you keeping up with these done-before movie clichés? Low and behold, there are more: Amanda’s Dad – the rich, fancy snob – disapproves of Dawson because of his background. Unsurprisingly, and not without want of trying, the relationship breaks down. Oh the humanity of it all! Over two decades later an older, wiser Dawson (James Marsden) and the grown up Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) meet again after the death of their friend Tuck (Gerald McRaney), and as they say, the rest is… snore.
It is as frustrating as it is predictable; a film where everything about it just stank the cinema to high heaven. Nevermind the fact that the younger Dawson looked (and sounded) older than his grown-up counterpart, this film was fraught with cringe-worthy stereotypes and a distinct lack of charm. The Notebook might be one of the most overrated films of the 21st century, but at least it had something – if you look deep enough – about it (probably McAdams or Gosling depending on your taste) that made it somewhat bearable. Hoffman’s mess of a film had no character, no charm, and most importantly, lacked any relatable emotional pull to make it either interesting or romantic.
To his credit, Marsden is probably the only redeemable feature in what will go down as one of the worst films of 2014. It may be a formula followed by many movies of its type, but without the substance or direction to match, it just ends up as a complete waste of time.