From novelist Nicholas Sparks, a.k.a. the Wizard of Weep, here’s yet another underwhelming tale of endearing love beset by unchallenging adversity.
It starts with a voice-over by Travis Parker (Benjamin Walker) about the “secret of life” which, it turns out, is all about “decisions.”
Then we see Travis racing through a hospital, about to find out ... not so fast, let’s go back seven years to when he first met Gabby Holland (Teresa Palmer), who at first blush finds him obnoxious.
A prolonged courtship follows, despite Gabby’s engagement to another man, and unsurprisingly, her feelings for Travis turn from disdain to desire. (Haven’t we seen this somewhere before? Cue the eye roll.)
Director Ross Katz paints a rose-coloured landscape of sun-drenched North Carolina beaches, houses with picket fences and black and white children blissfully playing together. There’s a lot of plinky, semi-sorrowful piano music.
What there isn’t is much by way of dramatic tension or anything approaching the unexpected. Even a terrible car accident involving a principal character is achieved without a drop of blood.
Walker brings a nice lanky, southern drawly charm and appeal to the role of Travis although it’s difficult to imagine what he sees in Gabby, who’s brittle and snarky until she finally comes around to realizing that she loves him after all.
None of the secondary characters are particularly well-drawn, including Brit actor Tom Wilkinson as Travis’s folksy (but alas, lonely) veterinarian father, Dr. Shep. Poor Tom Welling has the thankless job of playing Gabby’s spurned fiancé, who at least gets to deck Travis at one point.
Those looking for safe, sugar-saturated romance with a minimum of unpleasant reality will find this film much to their liking. But given the choice, the rest of us will opt for something a little more real and challenging.