By Heinrich Domingo
Nicholas Sparks continues to exploit his recipe for love story. After the success of The Notebook and Dear John, he has created a dish too familiar for the crowd to be palatable. With a chemistry-void love team, The Choice has only its plot to offer, which is too predictable to be enticing.
A happy-go-lucky guy (played by Benjamin Walker) meets a new neighbor (Teresa Palmer) who upon initial meeting complaints on his too noisy yard and ‘sex-savvy’ dog. Their love for pets created a special bond until one day they both fell in love despite her being in a relationship. After series of revelations and confrontations, they became free to be together without the fear of hurting anyone. Yet, an accident happened which tested their commitment for each other. The Choice is a story of a man’s choice whether to gamble and continue fighting for love or let go his lover and let fate follow its own course.
Boy meets girl. Both are enemies at first. Then, they eventually fall for each other. A conflict will come across. And either they will conquer it and live happily ever after or someone will die and the other shall be left shattered forever. This has been the working formula of Nicholas Sparks’ novels. As book adaptations, these films are bound to follow the clichés already written in the pages of the books.
Surely, these formulas still have a wide following. But the key in the effective delivery of Sparks’ stories is the love team’s chemistry. Without this, the story shall just be another bland tale of unrealistic expectations set in a patriarchal backdrop. In the case of The Choice, Walker and Palmer’s tandem just seemed too lacking. It is not enticing enough to spice up the boring story. And this chemistry is not something that can come from superb acting. It’s either the pair has it or they don’t.
Another problem that comes with Sparks’ writing is thematic loss. The main characters met because of dogs and became close together for being both doctors. Yet, the development of the story didn’t include these elements. It drops items often times forgetting that such inclusions help in creating the plot’s world. And this is the fear towards putting so much emphasis on the two main characters. Subplots are forgotten and the storyline becomes inconsistent.
Nicholas Sparks’ novels are sure of their target audience. Women across generations would fall for anything that combines pain, lust, and love. Yet, The Choice isn’t worthy of this crowd. A paying audience deserves more than a badly written plot played by a chemistry-void pair.