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CHOICE, THE

SYNOPSIS: When feisty medical student Gabby Holland (Teresa Palmer) moves in next door to perennial ladies' man Travis Shaw (Benjamin Walker), they embark on a surprising romantic journey neither imagined possible. Travis has always believed a serious relationship would cramp his easygoing lifestyle, while Gabby is preparing to settle down with her long-term boyfriend-until an irresistible attraction between the unlikely couple upends both of their well-planned lives. Spanning a decade and tracing the evolution of a love affair that is ultimately tested by life's most defining events.

Review by Louise Keller:
This Nicholas Sparks weepie is a surefire recipe for disaster: syrupy Mills & Boon romance, a cliché script, overcooked performances, irritating characters and a twist that makes you weep for all the wrong reasons. Even the gorgeous landscape shots - dreamy sunsets, twinkling stars, glowing moon, rippling waters and lush grasses swaying in the wind are overdone, becoming cinematic mush instead of magic. The fact that we do not warm to the two central characters is the final straw.

From the outset we are told that the secret to life is connected to the little, seemingly insignificant decisions we make along the road of life's journey. After a brief prologue, we leap back seven years earlier, when the story begins. Set in a typical Sparks setting of North Carolina, it is no surprise that this is a boy meets girl story. We are told - rather than see for ourselves - that Travis (Benjamin Walker with an exaggerated drawl) gets all the girls. It is hard to understand why - he is far more smarmy than charming. As for Gabby (Teresa Palmer), who has just moved in next-door, she displays little appeal beyond her voluptuous physical assets that are highlighted in a bikini and wet t-shirt.

It might be their respective dogs and loud music that initially gets them together but there is nothing heartwarming about their courtship. Travis and Gabby both have partners who are conveniently absent one night when they gaze at the sky, drink wine and make out on the kitchen table. He believes in friends and family; she believes in the moon and the stars. He is a country boy; she is a rich girl, born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Maggie Grace as Travis' caring sister is good value, but Tom Wilkinson is totally wasted as Travis' veterinary widowed father. Gabby's doctor boyfriend Ryan (Tom Welling) is a caricature in every sense.

There are rolling arpeggios to coincide with breaking waves, birds flying low as we contemplate the challenges of the on-off relationship and ominous thunderclouds as the plot point spelling adversity comes into effect. If there is a choice - stay away!

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

CHOICE, THE (PG)
(US, 2016)

CAST: Alexandra Daddario, Teresa Palmer, Benjamin Walker, Maggie Grace, Tom Welling, Tom Wilkinson, Noree Victoria

PRODUCER: Theresa Park, Peter Safran, Nicholas Sparks

DIRECTOR: Ross Katz

SCRIPT: Bryan Sipe (novel by Nicholas Sparks)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Alar Kivilo

EDITOR: Lucy Donaldson, Joe Klotz

MUSIC: Marcelo Zarvos

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mark Garner

RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 11, 2016







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