Travis and Gabby first meet as neighbors in a small coastal town and wind up in a relationship that is tested by life’s most defining events.
I love action movies with huge explosions, horror films with multiple decapitations, and sci-fi flicks with lasers, futuristic worlds, and slobbery aliens. But, I also adore love stories. When done correctly, they can grab you by the throat and damn well put a lump in it for the movie’s duration, and sometimes beyond. Nicholas Sparks is an author that has grabbed the attention of millions with his romantic novels, from “Message in a Bottle” to “At First Sight,” and, of course, his most famous read, “The Notebook,” which was turned into a blockbuster film in 2004 starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. With “The Choice,” Mr. Sparks creates another sentimental yet stirring tale filled with drama, passion, and hopeless love.
Travis Parker (Benjamin Walker) and his father Shep (Tom Wilkinson), run a veterinary clinic in a small North Carolina town. Travis loves his job, has great friends, a caring and loving sister in Steph (Maggie Grace), an on-again, off-again relationship with his high-school sweetheart Monica (Alexandra Daddario), a casual arrangement that suits them both, and he lives in a beautiful cottage by the water. Life is good and Travis couldn’t be happier. That is of course, until Gabby Holland (Teresa Palmer), a beautiful young nurse, movies in next door to him. From the get-go, they both notice each other but keep their distance. One night, while trying to study, and with Travis’ music blaring next door, she storms over to him, demanding that he turn it off. After introducing himself and trying to sweet talk her, to no avail, she leaves, outraged at his apparent lack of consideration and discernment.
A few days later however, she comes knocking on his door in the middle of the night, claiming that her pregnant dog appears to be in trouble and in a lot of pain. Without hesitation, Travis comes to her rescue and helps deliver her puppies. From this point on, she has a newfound respect for him and they begin to hang out together. Things get a little awkward one night when Travis is at a fair in town with Monica and they bump into Gabby and her boyfriend Ryan (Tom Welling), but the passion Travis and Gabby feel for each other is undeniable. When she informs him that Ryan will be out of town for a few weeks, they spend an unforgettable night together and things become even more complicated. Having never allowed himself to engage in a serious relationship before and having always kept his distance, Travis must decide if he wants to spend the rest of his life with Gabby, or if he would prefer to stay single, avoiding all the complications and emotional entanglements that come with a relationship.
Being a love story set in today’s pragmatic and unidealistic world, there will be many who will not like this film. Why? Because today’s culture and their ideologies, are more concerned about authenticity and palpability and these very people have forgotten what going to the movies is all about. We go to have fun and be entertained and to escape the mundane and unexciting elements of our day-to-day lives, we allow ourselves to be transported to another universe, or watch cowboys in the wild west, or even two people falling head-over-heels in love with each other. “The Choice” is an absolutely perfect film. We most certainly believe that Travis and Gabby care for each other but as the movie progresses, as does their relationship, we evolve along with them and share in their joyous moments and then feel for them during the tragedies. And yes, this is a Nicholas Sparks film so there is an amalgamation of both.
Out of all the Nicholas Sparks movie adaptations, including the aforementioned “The Notebook,” Benjamin Walker’s Travis and Teresa Palmer’s Gabby, are the most charismatic and believable of them all. When they first meet, there is an immediate attraction and buoyancy between them and you feel it, along with them, and this aspect only grows as the story advances. Ross Katz, known primarily as a producer of such films as “Marie Antoinette,” “Lost in Translation,” and “In the Bedroom,” in his second directorial feature, perfectly actualizes Sparks’ book and characters, making them larger than life, and infusing everyday activities, good and bad, into a story filled with laughter, tears, and everything in between. “The Choice” is a movie that makes you want to believe in the power of love. In a society where we seem more divided than ever before, Travis and Gabby represent the good that we are all capable of, and that we all want to preserve. Be prepared to shed some tears, I know I did.
In theaters February 5th
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