Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘The Best of Me’ Review: Starring Michelle Monaghan, James Marsden & Liana Liberato

I’ve either seen one too many Nicholas Sparks movies or The Best of Me is the most predictable and clichéd film adaptation of his to date. I think it’s maybe a little of both.

When an old friend passes away, former high school sweethearts Dawson (Luke Bracey) and Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) return to their small hometown to pay their respects. It’s been 21 years since the two have seen each other and as they reminisce the past and face their current troubles, Dawson and Amanda realize they never stopped loving each other.

In the flashback scenes, we learn that young Dawson (Luke Bracey) comes from a bad home life and young Amanda (Liana Liberato) comes from a privileged home and has her eye on Dawson from the moment she meets him. The two begin a relationship against Amanda’s father’s wishes and after a tragic accident occurs, Dawson and Amanda lose touch.

James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan are both excellent as the once lovers whose paths cross again, but the film itself does not live up to their talents. With lines like, “The answers are in the stars” and “How can I fall back in love with you if I never stopped?” The Best of Me is one massive cheese ball with a few good scenes mixed in.

The Best Of Me

New film actor Luke Bracey fits the bill of sulking young Dawson who is pining after the girl of his dreams. But the problem is he looks about 10 years too old for the part and in no way shape or form could he be a young James Marsden. Bracey is a fine actor, especially in this role, but the fact that he looks nothing like Marsden was a huge error in judgment in the casting department. With all of the flashbacks and jumping forward to present time, it didn’t feel like the two actors were playing the same character.

On the other hand, Liana Liberato could easily pass for a young Michelle Monaghan. Their hairstyles, wardrobe choices and even their facial expressions were similar. During once scene, Liberato is standing out on the porch showing only her profile and I thought it was actually Monaghan. Now that is stellar work from the casting department.

The Best Of Me

There are a few sweet and genuine scenes between Marsden and Monaghan and Bracey and Liberato, but the predictability of the plot and cheesy moments is too overbearing for even the biggest romantic film fans. This ultimately makes The Best of Me the weakest and least original of the Sparks films adaptations. Ok to be fair The Lucky One isn’t great either but Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling are enough to make it decent and it is not as cheesy or predictable as this. Even here the four actors give it their all and all of them are great, but even they can’t save this overly sentimental and overdramatic film.

If you’re a fan of Nicholas Sparks, Michelle Monaghan or James Marsden, then there’s a chance you may enjoy The Best of Me, however I am a fan of all three and this is easily one of the most forgettable and corny films I’ve seen this year. I’d personally recommended renting either The Notebook or A Walk to Remember, which are Sparks’ absolute best adaptations.

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