As Nicholas Sparks' film adaptations go, Ross Katz's "The Choice" is a
better film than the bland "Longest Ride" we got last year and
certainly miles past the perplexing and downright unbelievable "Safe
Haven" in 2013. With that being said, it's still burdened by the same
kind of misguided tropes and cloying incredulity that makes each of
these films a chore to sit through. These films come decorated in the
same kind of clothing as the next, as they're built from the ground up
on impossibly romantic circumstances, characters that always look
beautiful no matter what, a truly tragic plot device played up
perfectly to engineer an emotional reaction rather than naturally
warrant one, and a slew of "perfect moments" to make your relationship
with your significant other look like a slog. And, specific to this
one, seriously questionable treatment of its female character. Happy
This time, we focus on Travis Parker (Benjamin Walker), a veterinarian working with his father (Tom Wilkinson) at his practice, living in the small coastal town of Beaufort, North Carolina. Travis lives on his own and enjoys the peacefulness brought on by cold beer, his beach chair, and his dog, until his quietness is disrupted by his new neighbor Gabby Holland (Teresa Palmer). Gabby is a med student, who is currently dating a fellow doctor, but her playfully stubborn aura makes her all the more attractive to Travis.
When her boyfriend leaves for a medical retreat for several weeks, the two succumb to intense emotional desires, have sex, and begin to that thing that so many young people do nowadays where they act like they're dating to others, have sex and sleep together like they are, but really aren't together. When her boyfriend gets back, Gabby immediately wants things to go back to the way things were before he left, leaving Travis out to dry, and making them both look like immature, stupid people who can't appropriately handle or discuss their own baggage. Nonetheless, Gabby winds up breaking up with him and her and Travis wind up getting married and starting a family of their own.
This may sound like I just went through the entire film's plot, but that wouldn't make sense since I never addressed the core "choice" this film and its two lead characters love to talk about through narration. Well, "the choice" comes towards the end, when a catastrophic accident occurs and leaves one of the parties with a big decision. However, Katz (who directed "Adult Beginners" two years ago) and screenwriter Bryan Sipe rush through this whole circumstance at the end like it's a big afterthought. The fundamental "choice" of the film isn't introduced until far too late in the picture, where it can't develop, and as a result, feels like a tacked on conclusion.
"The Choice" is a tad more forgivable than many other Sparks-branded pictures because at least one of our leads has an ounce of personality this time around. Benjamin Walker's, who already looks and talks like a young Colin Firth, Travis is a very snarky character throughout the picture, which at least makes him an interesting personality rather than a plastic presence. Teresa Palmer's Gabby is a blander, more ordinary female lead, but her ability to handle the more dramatic scenes with competence makes up for her lack of character development.
I think the most problematic thing about "The Choice" as a whole is the strange way it tries to pass off unromantic instance as romantic, and, if we're going to be completely critical of the film's ideology here, almost makes a case for "no means yes" misogyny that has plagued women for decades. Consider the scene when Travis drives all the way out to Gabby's parents' home, where she is staying for the weekend, to ask her parents for her hand in marriage. Gabby is clearly horrified by this entire circumstance, yet her mother and father are in awe of Travis's conviction of wanting to marry her. Though she repeatedly says "no" a good dozen times, her mother and father keep insisting that this is what's best for her, going as far to say this is what she wants, and even encourage Travis by giving him a ring with which to propose. The next scene, they're happily married in a church. What a strange, uncomfortable scene that illustrates the least romantic circumstance that basically tells Gabby's character, "stop resisting, smile, and accept the ring, you ingrate."
Getting all riled up about the gender relations in the latest Nicholas Sparks' film is a losing battle in and of itself because these films are so contrived and detrimental not only to men and women but romantic expectations in general that pervasive analysis only warrants a headache. This is another loser in the long line of these mediocre, incredulous films that perpetuate false ideas of romance with the same narrative structure and emotional manipulation so much so that the white flag I've been waving at these films for the last few years, in utter defeat and contempt, has long been discolored.
Action / Drama / Romance
Action / Drama / Romance
The film opens seven years prior to the current events in the story. Travis Shaw (Benjamin Walker) is a charming young man from the south who appeals to all women, but he is casually seeing a woman named Monica (Alexandra Daddario).At night, Travis meets his new neighbor Gabby Holland (Teresa Palmer) when she complains about his music being too loud. She also complains that Travis's dog Moby has possibly knocked up her dog Molly. Gabby seems to be the only one that does not fall for Travis's charm, though his sister Stephanie (Maggie Grace) can see that he's interested.Gabby is a doctor at a hospital while Travis works with his father Dr. Shep (Tom Wilkinson) at the vet clinic. Shep can also see the awkward chemistry between them.Travis and Monica are at a fair together and run into Gabby and her boyfriend Ryan (Tom Welling). Travis is visibly displeased.Over time, Travis and Gabby develop a friendship as he brings her along with his friends on their trips by the lake. Travis helps Gabby when Molly has her puppies while Ryan is away on a trip. Gabby attends church with Travis where Shep is preaching. He later talks to Gabby about how this day would have been his wife's 57th birthday. She died of cancer when Travis was 14, and Shep turned to God after the event.Gabby goes over to Travis's home as they discuss what to do with the puppies. They start to bicker with one another, annoyed at each other but with an obvious sexual tension. Quickly, the two cannot hide their attraction for one another, and they begin to kiss and eventually make love for the first time.Ryan eventually returns from his trip and goes back to spending time with Gabby, leaving Travis upset. He tells Gabby how much he loves her but knows he cannot separate her and Ryan. Gabby writes a letter to Travis saying that she told Ryan about the affair and that he angrily broke it off with her but then proposed. Meanwhile, Monica tells Travis she knows how he feels about Gabby, and while she is upset, she knows he must still go after what his heart wants.Travis goes to Gabby's home and asks her parents for their blessing. The two seem pleased to consider Tom as a son-in-law, but nobody listens to what Gabby has to say in regards to the situation. Her mom gives Travis a ring that belonged to Gabby's grandmother, and Travis proposes with it. Gabby says no and he keeps asking and asking until she relents and says yes.Travis and Gabby are married, and they have two kids over the next seven years. However, Travis has been busy with work lately and has missed a few dates. On one such date night, Gabby leaves the restaurant after thinking Travis stood her up. Her car is struck by another on the road, leaving her in a coma. Travis is told that he has 90 days to let Gabby wake up or she may never recover and may be forced off life support. This leaves Travis with a difficult choice.Travis visits Gabby frequently at the hospital and reaffirms his love for her continuously. He receives support from Stephanie and their dad, but Travis worries that he will lose Gabby for good.One afternoon, Travis takes his boat out on the lake. He goes by the lake house and sees the wind chimes blowing. Somehow, this encourages him to run to the hospital where he sees that Gabby is awake. He goes to his wife and kisses her.Travis sets up an outdoor dinner to make it up to Gabby for missing their last date. She tells him she heard every word he said to her about how much he loves her. Travis jokes that if Moby never made a move on Molly, they never would have met.The film ends with Travis and Gabby taking their kids by the lake to stare up at the moon.
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April 24, 2016 at 06:13 AM