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Nicholas Sparks’ Best

Nicholas Sparks’ Best

Ever since An Officer and a Gentleman swept me up where I belong and Pretty in Pink melted my eyes with tears of joy when Molly Ringwald appeared wearing her homespun prom dress, it’s no secret that I’m quite partial to a decent chick-flick.

Author Nicholas Sparks is a connoisseur on evoking emotions and delivering purity of heart within his literature setting the benchmark high with The Notebook and more recently The Lucky One. This latest Hollywood treatment from another in a long list of best sellers has all the trademarks which have made the previous adaptations so adored by hopeless romantics. It is unavoidable not to cry during this new film manufactured for a girls night out at the movies, romantic escapism of the highest order, The Best of Me.

This time it’s true love in two timelines when high school sweethearts Dawson (James Marsden) and Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) reunite in their old hometown. Half of the movie is told in flashback during their teenage years, developing friendship of trust evolving into a blossoming romance but you can just sense something will tear them apart. Cue sobbing and Kleenex.

An effective twist in the story took me by surprise, something I am not going to reveal here, however for the most part you know what you’re going to get, all the clichés are on show. From the tranquility of a glistening lake setting, the risk of second chances, to kissing in the rain, hearts are bound to be beating.

Nicholas Sparks writes at least a novel a year with movie rights instantly snapped up. Looking closely, the formula is like clockwork even extending to every movie poster of a couple embracing, side on about to smooch. The Notebook has since gone down as a go-to waterworks enhancer where an entire box of tissues may be needed. Watching it again recently, my glasses needed windscreen wipers they fogged up so often.

Sparks sets his scenarios down to a familiar tee; hardship of transcending romance; small town by the coast; feel good values but quirky individuals; an obstacle which will make love between the pair impossible but they get together anyway; tragedy or awful occurrence; ‘mostly’ feel-good finale.

Safe Haven was a great example of all these traits as was Dear John, with Channing Tatum as a soldier who had a middle east mission to deal with while trying not to be distracted by the big saucer like eyes of Amanda Seyfried fluttering at him. The Lucky One was also very good and proved to many that Zac Efron had graduated from High School Musical in a manly fashion falling in love with gorgeous Taylor Schilling of Orange is the New Black fame.

I believe topping all the tear worthy film adaptations so far starred Kevin Costner. Message in a Bottle was a delicate story of a woman who finds a harrowing letter in a floating bottle by the ocean who becomes determined to track down the author. Robyn Wright (Forrest Gump) is the lead, while the late Paul Newman is typically gruff but likable in one of his final roles.

Another commendable film from the Sparks gushing romance universe is Nights in Rodanthe, one of the lesser box office money spinners, however also one of the best. Appearing in their third movie together, Diane Lane and Richard Gere become entangled in typical forbidden romance circumstances when a travelling doctor on his way to see an estranged son meets an unhappily married woman at an inn. Just you wait and see what happens next, those tears rolled down my eyes well into the end credits. The authors writing even made Miley Cyrus admirable in The Last Song, she displayed glimpses of dramatic ability and heartwarming poise. In all the above films, casting is key and chemistry within the lovers, they all click considerably and elevating believability to the contrived plotlines.

This latest cryfest, The Best of Me had ladies in the audience around me when I saw it sobbing, sniffling and when star James Marsden disrobed, an uncomfortable silence floated through the auditorium until a collective sigh swept past my ears. The atmosphere reactions surrounded me during an obligatory kissing in the rain scene was sullen for some, vibrant for others. One lady howled at the screen in raptures. That’s the effect Nicholas Sparks has on the endless precession of female skewed audiences and why Hollywood pay the big bucks. James Marsden knows this premise well having appeared also in The Notebook, as Prince Charming in Enchanted and in a little known rom-com gem Sugar & Spice.

In Best of Me, his character Dawson contains secrets, a damaged past is evident, the rough around the edges guy screams trouble but will still cause hearts to beat rapidly with his beautiful words or as aforementioned, when shirtless. Don’t despair fans of weepy drama; the next Sparks adaptation is due to hit screens in April 2015, The Longest Ride, which I predict will have flashbacks or a tranquil lake or both…

Shane A. Bassett

Sydney Unleashed is one of Australia’s premier entertainment publications exploring the latest in lifestyle trends. From Sydney’s finest restaurants, cafes and bars to the hottest in gadgets, products, and home entertainment, Sydney Unleashed is your one-stop lifestyle platform.