Tuesday, February 9, 2016
The Choice 
CNS/USCCB (K. Jensen) review
ChicagoTribune () review
RogerEbert.com (S. Wloszczyna) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review
The Choice  (directed by Ross Katz, screenplay by Bryan Sipe based on the novel [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] by Nicholas Sparks [wikip] [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] [IMDb]) is a _nice_, very well made, at times even _somewhat_ "thought provoking" (yet in an ever "safe" sort of way) contemporary romantic drama, that _plenty_ of 20-something American couples (looking for something to do / somewhere to go) will definitely appreciate come Valentine's Day. After all, this is certainly _not_ writer / producer Nicholas Sparks' "first rodeo" [IMDb]. He knows what he's doing, and he does it very, very well.
As such, cinephiles looking for something "new" will probably leave disappointed. But couples on a first or second date, just looking for something _safe_ to do will probably leave relieved ;-) -- (I was once "there" too ;-).
The story, set in a sea-side town somewhere in North Carolina -- I do like Sparks' setting of many of his romances "in the South" as in a polarized country like the United States is today, he reminds us that we could "get along" (quite nicely, in fact) if we chose to -- is a grand romance between two very attractive if at least initially quite different people:
Travis (played by Benjamin Walker) is a popular (late 20s-something) hometown boy. Gabrielle "Gabby" (played by Teresa Palmer) is a recently arriving (from a fairly wealthy family in Charleston, SC), again, later-20-something, "Resident" at a local hospital. She moves in (presumably rents) the sea-side house next to Travis'. Yet, if at first sight, Travis may seemed like a rather loud local "good ole boy," Gabby (as well as Viewers) soon learn that Travis is no Neanderthal. It turns out that he's a vet(erinarian) and so ... "a doctor" if perhaps "of another kind."
With this "filling-in" of Travis' "CV" it's "game on" ... and much, often quite lovely / beautiful ensues.
My ONLY COMPLAINT with the film is that BOTH of the principal protagonists are _so absurdly attractive_ (physically, socially, economically, professionally) that the vast majority of Viewers would realize, if they thought about it at all, that the two protagonists don't really "belong to this world." And while it could be said that "Travis" and "Gabby" are fictional characters and hence, _by definition_ are "not real" (not "of this world"); there are fictional characters created by other authors in other works that are drawn in ways that more correspond to Readers' / Viewers' realities. Instead, the two protagonists here are clearly "Ideals" (belonging to some extent to the universe of Archetypes or perhaps even better belonging to the universe of "Platonic Forms").
Yet, perhaps because they _are_ Ideals / Platonic Forms largely expressing the _essences_ of "the young, attractive Male and Female" of our time, WE CAN STILL RELATE TO THEM (in our minds / imaginations) and then relate to their various trials / tribulations in the story.
As such, it is truly is "a mind game" that we're asked to play as we watch this film ;-). It's not necessarily a bad one, indeed, a quite enjoyable one. And it's not necessarily even a bad one for a couple to play together on a date. It's just that it isn't real, 'cept in that universe of "Platonic Ideals" as almost NO ONE is that attractive, that socially capable, that happily economically "unworried" as the characters of this story are.
And yet, "Wouldn't it be nice?" ;-)
Again, it's not an altogether bad "date movie" for (fast approaching) Valentine's Day ;-) Just do realize that "it's not real" ;-).
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