Film review: ‘The Choice’ leaves you with two choices : bawl or yawn

Film review: ‘The Choice’ leaves you with two choices : bawl or yawn
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The world is probably divided into those readers (mostly women) who devour Nicholas Sparks’s novels and daydream about those ruggedly handsome, slightly flawed but ever-so charming men who are perfect boyfriends and husbands, and those who don’t. Full disclosure: I fall in the latter category.

In The Choice, Benjamin Walker (who could surely have made a better hairstyle choice) plays Travis, a content bachelor who hangs out with his married friends on his boat, fires up the barbeque, and sits alone on his lawn sipping beer and watching a pretty sky with his loyal dog by his side. But as soon as cute blonde medical student Gabby moves in next door, Travis is interested. Gabby (Teresa Palmer) is dating Ryan McCarthy (Tom Welling) but he is forgotten as soon as he goes on a business trip. Gabby has no qualms about cooking dinner for Travis and flirting shamelessly with him.

If you know Sparks, you know how this plays out. It’s no spoiler to mention that disaster must eventually shatter this fairy tale. The plot, based on Sparks’s 2007 novel, is unashamedly manipulative and designed to have the ladies reaching for the tissue box. Every single character leads a picture-book life in a gorgeous home with stunning sunsets and serene views. Ross Katz, who previously produced Lost in Translation and Dev Benegal’s Road, Movie, directs and shoots in some stunning locations.

The Choice is the eleventh Sparks book to be adapted to film and only the second I have seen (Message in A Bottle, 1999, was the first and last). It’s like a Mills & Boon romance, unrealistic to say the least, where, for instance, neither the protagonists nor their dogs age a day in a span of eight years or more. Sappy and corny, The Choice will either make you bawl your eyes out or dull you into a coma.