<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Ross Katz. Starring Ben Walker, Teresa Palmer, Maggie Grace, Alexandra Daddario, Tom Welling, Tom Wilkinson
Running Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
You just know what to expect from the moment you watch the trailer and hear that it’s a film based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks and I wasn’t surprised, pleasantly or otherwise.
I don’t know if giving two people the blessing to cheat on their partners is romantic. But in The Choice, you have exactly this happening. Somewhere in the charming South of the US a wannabe Matthew McConaughey in the form of Ben Walker, who plays Travis in the film, regales women with stories and a smile. He’s already seeing someone – well on again, off again – but that doesn’t stop him from making a play for every other girl he sees in a bikini, one of whom happens to be his neighbour Gabby (Teresa Palmer) who is already almost engaged to her boyfriend Ryan (a now very big and beefy Tom Welling who used to be TVs Superman in Smallville).
Gabby of course falls for his charms almost immediately but as is the predictable formula of most films of this type she must resist him with lots of sarcasm and witty banter that will lead to a glorious union finally at some point after all this passionate hostility boils over into passion! When they’re respective partners are away, Gabby and Travis do indeed have time to play. And neither seems remorseful at all about their tryst. In fact, the author and director seem to have no shame whatsoever in romanticising this duplicitous behaviour. What’s more, they show us no reason whatsoever as to why the two do not like their partners. They have no issues whatsoever with them and can easily break off their respective relationships first before getting together.
And then of course Gabby must decide what to do and he must decide whether to let her go or ‘fight for her’. Why he must fight for her, we never know. Why she must make him fight for her and chase her even though she has left her boyfriend, we aren’t given the courtesy to understand. But he does chase and beg her parents and make her change her ‘No’s to a ‘Yes’. In a matter of five minutes of onscreen time they are married, have a kid and then have another kid. Ten minutes after that we see them not being too happy and actually not having time for each other as he tends to a wounded animal and she drives home in the rain…
Tragedy strikes and this leads to several slow motion shots of birds and waves and hospital beds and Travis doing strange things with a hammer that also falls from his hand in slow motion. It’s banal, predictable and the worst sort of trashy story that tries to pull at your heartstrings but fails miserably. I love emotion and sentimentality but this just felt like bad filmmaking and a lousy script. Thankfully, you have a choice whether to watch the film or not.