Valentine’s Day takes place this weekend, and with it comes the very awkward obligation to spend time, spend money, and expend effort, all in the name of “love.” It’s the quintessential “Darned If You Do, Darned If You Don’t” hallmark, and we at Relatively Random have done a little research to make your Valentine’s Day … less … um … darned.
First, we considered the traditional dinner and a movie date format. Luckily, Lionsgate has released a new Nicholas Sparks’ movie just in time for the blessed day! Like the holiday, however, The Choice is a complicated option for your romantic celebration, but here is why we like it:
1. Flirting Lessons: If you and your sweetheart are just starting your romantic journey, the adorable bantering between the film’s lead characters will give you a clever example. The first half of the show is filled with witty jabs and cute phrases that show viewers how to be playful and polite, how to make friends and how to make up. If you’re further down the road in your relationship, however, this story is a good one for you, as well. While you may have mastered the art of flirting years ago, this reel will give you the refresher you might not even know you need. Wink, wink. Truthfully, this film is great for the non-committed viewer, too, as both of the primary actors (Benjamin Walker, Teresa Palmer) are so attractive and compelling, you’ll feel like they are flirting with you. (I certainly got my money’s worth.) Thus, this film is an option for couples and unattached audiences to enjoy.
2. It’s a terrible book-to-screen adaptation. This means that if your date has already read the 2007 novel upon which this movie is based, she’ll actually get a big surprise. The movie is very different from the book. (We enjoyed the movie more, actually, which pains us to say. Aren’t we always supposed to claim that the book is better than its silver screen account?) Gabby (Warm Bodies, Point Break 2015) is more believably brought to life on screen, and more likable. The storyline is essentially the same – boy meets girl, boy is smitten, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, boy loses girl again (this time in a more dramatic way) – but it contains enough plot variance and difference in character development to make the two stand alone. Therefore, the price of admission will be a good investment; the movie will provide you with something you weren’t expecting (if you were expecting a true-to-text representation).
3. North Carolina. Like every other Sparks’ film we’ve seen, The Choice is set on the banks of North Carolina, and this one celebrates the waterways that flow between the mainland and the open sea. It is full of beautiful landscape shots, images of coastal activities such as fishing, boating, and picnics, and tours of unique waterfront properties. In this film, it is warm and sunny (except for some scenes where bad weather symbolizes crisis to promote the movie’s climax) and for that reason, we recommend spending a frigid February evening or wintery weekend afternoon in the theatre. Take a little vacation to the coast with this piece of cinema.
4. It’s grown-up. The Choice carries with it mature and complex themes. It’s not just a love story, it makes some philosophical and morale claims, as well. Viewers will notice a voice-over narrative about choices and life’s direction. They’ll also find religious undertones and implications about the importance of tradition and the value of family, and it will be impossible to ignore the blatant message: “Love harder.” So, if you’re not in the mood for a chick flick, step up to the ticket window anyway. This movie offers more than just the cliché tropes of a romantic drama.
Overall, we enjoyed the film. While it does not receive rave reviews from other entertainment reporters, we found The Choice to be more than what we expected and rate it a good choice for Valentine’s viewing. (Note: We do not recommend this as a choice for a first date. There will be crying, and if you’re uncomfortable with showing emotion as your friendship forms, skip this one. Besides, is there any good way to warn your date that she might need to wear waterproof mascara when she goes out with you? That might sound like a bad omen. And is it really fair to ask her to cry off all of her concealer, like we did? I mean, she barely knows you! She probably isn’t ready to bare her whole heart and her naked face, too.)