The Best of Me

WRITTEN BY: J. Mills Goodloe, Will Fetters
DIRECTED BY: Michael Hoffman
STARRING: James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Liana Liberato, Luke Bracey
RATING: 3.5 stars

If, like me, you are a sucker for any Nicholas Sparks novel and/or film adaptation, then you already know you need to bring tissues and be prepared to weep over a romantic and often tragic love story. The Best of Me is yet another tearjerker and although the film adaptation has made some significant changes to the novel's plot, it still works well. Perhaps nothing will ever reach the dizzying heights of The Notebook, but The Best of Me still has all the ingredients of a sappy and yet still engrossing story including young love, second chances, tragedy and overcoming obstacles.

Former high school sweethearts Dawson (James Marsden/Luke Bracey) and Amanda (Michelle Monaghan/Liana Liberato) reunite after more than 20 years in their small hometown following the death of Dawson's surrogate father, Tuck (Gerald McRaney), who they both loved dearly. As they revisit Tuck's house, their memories of young love return and they reminisce about what they had and how their lives turned out.

Marsden was a fantastic choice for the romantic lead. Aside from his ridiculously good looks, he brought some rugged charm to the role and had excellent chemistry with Monaghan who has a girl-next-door sweetness that makes her endearing. Liberato was equally delightful to watch, representing the innocence of youth. Although Bracey gave a decent performance as the boy from the wrong side of the tracks with an abusive father, the fact that he looked so very different to Marsden was jarring at times as the film had so many flashbacks. The film really needed someone who looked more like Marsden.

The Best of Me has some stunning settings and an equally beautiful sentiment. It is a great choice for a date night at the cinema.