Kyle J. Steenblik

The Best of Me is a tedious romance trope

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I am in no way shape or form the demographic for which this film is intended, so take what I say here with that weight.  The core audience for this film will love it, and some may even love it while seeing it for what it is.  The Best of Me is low romance fantasy.  The tropes are so prolific the film might as well have been assembled from every other romance ever filmed.  It is unclear if the director, Michael Hoffman, intended to condescend to the audience or the genera, but either way the result was a disregard for both.  I am not trying to say the film was terrible.  Honestly it wasn’t.  I am trying to say the film was completely unenjoyable, and even insulting.

The-Best-Of-Me-UK-Quad-FinalThe film and story employ several, or every, romance trope.  The first is the dual timeline, or the flashback storytelling model, starting in the present day, and revealing back-story through flashbacks as the present day story unfolds.  This story and film also use heavy-handed foreshadowing where the main characters practically call the shot before events unfold.  That is where one character would say something like “man it would be terrible if we got a flat tire” right before they got a flat tire.  This really took all the wind out of every major event and plot point, by the end of the film I was writing down what would happen next, five to ten minutes in advance, beat for beat.  The third common element is what I would call the blank slate character, where the most identifiable character for the target audience is essentially devoid of extreme character attributes making them as close to universally relatable as possible.  In this case, it is intended that any female audience member between the ages of 16 and 40 can look at Amanda and say, “she is just like me.”  This unfortunately alienates anyone outside that demographic, or anyone that does not relate to that character in some way.  What I saw in the primary female character was a shallow girl that failed to develop through a film that spans 20 years, and who is an inactive participant in the events of her life.

Dawson Cole (James Marsden / Luke Bracey) and Amanda Collier (Michelle Monaghan / Liana Liberato) are high school lovers driven apart over the years by misfortune.  They are brought together again after their dear friend, and Dawson’s surrogate father, Tuck (Gerald McRaney) dies leaving them to handle his estate.  His last wishes were for them to reunite to resolve the issues of the past.

I may be a little late to defend myself here, but I actually enjoy romance films.  I love a good story regardless of genera, or target audience.  What we have is a tired, uninspired, malformed story by Nicholas Sparks, which was forced into development and turned into a half-hearted script, which was directed on autopilot.  I honestly feel like I have spent too much time on this film as it is.

The Best of Me is the worst of romance films.  The story is retooled and predictable, and the characters are dull and annoying. There are far better romantic films on which to spend your time.  The genera of romance films deserves better than this, as does any audience that enjoys them.  2 out of 5

The Best of Me| Runtime: 117 min|Director: Michael Hoffman|Writers: J. Mills Goodloe, Will Fetters|Stars: James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Luke Bracey, Liana Liberato, Gerald McRaney|Rated PG-13 for sexuality, violence, some drug content and brief strong language  

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