Directed by Michael Hoffman (‘Gambit‘, ‘The Last Station’ 09) and adapted from yet another self consciously trite novel by king of the gushy teen melodrama, novelist Nicholas Sparks. I am slightly alarmed to say I enjoyed parts of this – and it is entirely due to the strength of some of the as yet unfamiliar faces in the movie. Dawson (James Marsden) and Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) are two star-crossed lovers who are brought back into each other’s life when a mutual friend passes away, and we see them stare at each other not quite sure how to act (in every sense of the word) as the film continually flits back in time to show us how they fell in love and also how they came to be strangers.
Their younger selves are played by Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato, and in these parts the story is still formulaic piss but it does nevertheless work well with convincing performances and direction. Afterward, though, that predictability careers downhill with moments of ‘oh no, please tell me this isn’t going to happen. Sigh. It was inevitable for more than one reason I suppose.’ Sparks really is taking the mick here and he needs to hire someone that can extricate the enormous lumps of his own cheese from the plot as some of the rest has enough emotional empathy and resonance to be worthwhile. Fans of his probably won’t be too disappointed by this, unless by some miracle the novel is a serious piece of literature.