The story has Sparks written all over it and for the best part it does unfold how you would imagine, but it does not follow the typical romantic clichés. I keep reading that the film doesn’t have any surprises but whilst we know that a romance will eventually blossom and that something will get in the way, we are still left to guess what form these obstacles will take.
Unfortunately it just isn’t on par with The Notebook or A Walk To Remember, far from it on an emotional level, but this isn’t a throw away film either. It doesn’t break your heart or reduce you to a blubbering mess but it does give you a small lump in your throat at times. The romance is mature and there are a couple of deep story lines that run in the background; the focus on war makes it more moving but it is the character of Beth’s husband that brings in a darker side and this is what will make it stand out for an older audience. However these scenes are not developed to the same extent that we have seen with Sparks’ other novels and although it’s a plus to have these themes in place they do need to be taken further.
There were a few holes in the plot but not having read the book I will put it down to the source material, as it was obvious that the constant diversions of asking who Logan really is were used to make the story lengthier. Other than that there was very little to complain about it terms of story as it ran smoothly which, despite having a predictable storyline, does not become boring.
As for the casting, of course Zac Efron is brilliant for the role, and this is the main reason that people will be watching this film at all. Just like his role in Burr Steers‘ adaptation of Ben Sherwood‘s novel The Death And Life Of Charlie St. Cloud, but with a little more stubble, Efron is great at saying little whilst saying a lot through his impressionable gaze. It is all about his appearance though, as that’s what gets your heart racing. At the same time though he does give a strong performance and it was what the film needed.
Efron’s on-screen chemistry with Taylor Schilling unfortunately doesn’t quite hit the mark. For a largely unknown actress she did extremely well, as other adaptations of Sparks’ novels have had two popular actors leading the film so it wasn’t as easy to connect to Schilling’s character as, say, with Rachel McAdams‘ role in The Notebook. Still, Schilling’s character does emit quite a lot of emotion, but it is her family situation rather than her romance with Efron’s character that gets any reaction. The sex scenes were far too PG for their relationship to really endorse any appreciation, or at least the first one was, despite being very romantic.
There is a great supporting cast too; Beth’s young son Ben’s (Riley Thomas Stewart) role was really well acted, but it was that of the grandmother, played by Blythe Danner, that I enjoyed the most. I had hoped for more of an emotional relationship between her and Schilling’s character, as from The Last Kiss we know she can get a great and deeply motivated audience reaction from her roles, but her inclusion was still a really pleasant addition.
Whatever the case, The Lucky One is definitely one to buy for the shelf to have ready for one of those rainy days when a good romantic film is needed, because at least it does that well enough.