The Choice is an example of a movie whose trailer was better than the film itself. But the film has enough heart to drive it until the end. Coming from a person who has seen most of the Nicholas Sparks movies, I think The Choice hit all the appropriate points that remind us all who wrote the story. Romance that happened in a blink of an eye but that was as epic as they come, heartbreak that hits a little too close to home and a lead that you can’t help but root for all made the cut in film. But there were portions of the movie that did more harm than good to the work as a whole and there was a plot that didn’t have enough of that Nicholas Sparks touch.
The Choice is set in a small town with everyone knowing everyone, and in this small town Travis Parker (Benjamin Walker) falls in love with Gabby Holland (Teresa Palmer) as soon as the two neighbors meet. Their back and forth sassy banter only fuels their love for one another, leading to what they assume to be their happily ever after until a tragedy strikes and Travis has to make a choice that will change both of their lives forever.
The main problem that the film had came from their need to fit everything vital in, and ending up rushing plots that would otherwise make more sense if they had the time to blossom more. Travis and Gabby meet each other and from there, they bond at lightning speed. With Gabby’s boyfriend conveniently leaving for a month, the two have the time to grow together and before you know it the month is up and Travis proposes. This came off very premature for a couple that spent more time apart than together at that point. And immediately after the proposal came a quick recap of the next seven years filled with a wedding, two kids and happiness. That may be romantic but the speed that the movie took to move the plot along was more confusing than anything else. There wasn’t enough time to fall for the two leads together and suddenly they were married for almost a decade. The scenes that lead up to the two of them getting together made our interest in their relationship hold for the tragic twist towards the end, but not as significantly as the writers would have wanted.
Another mistake that the movie made had to be the way Gabby was written. Her choices along the way didn’t make sense and she seemed to be her biggest enemy in the beginning. Her anger towards her new neighbor was heavy but too much all at once, his music was loud but is that really a reason to go and yell instead of trying to talk things out politely? She continues to pick fights with Travis, only to later hang out with his friends and sister. But when he asks her to stay and eat she says no, only to invite him to a private dinner herself. The night only heats up more when she admits that she tells him no because she wants him to keep flirting with her. These mixed messages coming from a woman with a boyfriend definitely raises some questions. Not to mention the fact that she sleeps (and keeps sleeping) with Travis from that night on while her boyfriend is away. Gabby’s decisions about her love life continued to spiral until Travis took the reigns on their relationship and made it make sense again. These parts of her story shift our opinion for sure, especially when she ends up in a coma there is the question of how invested should we be? The set up for Gabby wasn’t strong and she pushed herself the wrong way enough for her faith not to hit as hard as it maybe would of if there were moments for the audience to fall for her.
The good part of the film had to be the way it utilized Travis. He was introduced as the usual Nicholas Sparks type of leading man, playboy who doesn’t settle down until he meets the protagonist. Travis’ love for Gabby was the driving force for most of his decisions throughout the movie and they made much more sense in retrospect. There wasn’t a need to question why he was doing something, he loved Gabby and it was that simple. This helped the investment in Gabby’s faith as well, with Travis struggling to deal with the pain and the choice of whether or not to shut off Gabby’s life support. His pain was raw and real, with the possibility of a few tears for the very emotional and romantic. Travis came off the screen in the film far more than in the trailer which led us to favor Gabby more because her feelings seemed more genuine. When in fact it was Travis who fell for Gabby quickly and then spent half the movie getting her to admit her feelings, and then the other half trying to bring her back from her coma.
Overall, the plot was rushed but for those who adore Nicholas Sparks and the promise of an epic romance, this movie shouldn’t disappoint. It has enough tragedy to make you feel things but not too much where you end up sobbing and seeing the world as a scary place. The leads have a dynamic chemistry that isn’t The Notebook worthy but definitely will have you invested enough when tragedy strikes. The small moments of humor uplift the movie and remind us that it’s not centered only on romance. Questions of faith, death and choices are brought up during the movie and they might make you question yourself along the way as well. The Choice is a more uplifting type of story, coming from a writer who we expect death and star crossed love stories from. The leads struggle to find their way to one another but once they do, there is nothing that is there to break them apart, which is more reassuring in this day and age.
If you are in the mood for something in between light and depressing, The Choice is worth a try. It may cause a few tears, but the reassurance of a happily ever ending should push you through it. It isn’t the most inventive or new approach to a romantic pairing but it’s sweet and comforting enough to be worth it. Benjamin Walker especially pulls the movie in a direction that the trailer doesn’t show, his character’s love for the lead only getting more and more realistic as time passes.