The scene opens with a starry night spanning over an oil rig mounted in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by water as far as the eye can see. Dawson Cole (James Marsden) is in the midst of admiring the stars when the ground below him begins to shake. Oil sprays skyward from the rig, forcing men to run for their lives. Dawson races to help a friend in need when the entire rig gives one violent shudder and sends him flying fifty feet into the ocean.
While on the verge of death, Dawson flashes back to his teenage years and sees the face of a girl he loved. Then the screen goes black. When Dawson wakes in the hospital, it is a miracle he is alive. The doctors have no explanation.
Amanda Collier (Michelle Monaghan) is living life in a blur. Her son is preparing for college and she is married to a man selfishly engulfed in his work. Dawson and Amanda receive a call notifying them a mutual friend has died and they are written into his will. The film, directed by Michael Hoffman, sends them trekking to common ground where they spent their young adult years carefree together.
Neither Amanda nor Dawson knew the other would be participating in the final goodbye of their friend, but within three short days the world they knew is turned upside down and they are tossed into remembering the past and the actions that forced them apart.
“The Best of Me” is based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks. Any viewer accustomed to his style of plot and writing will have a general sense of the direction of this story. However, for those unfamiliar with Sparks’ style it can easily be summed up in two words: romance and tragedy. The plot keeps the unaware viewer wondering what the ending will come to, hoping for the best for Amanda and Dawson, but preparing for the worst.
Sparks is well-known for his loud finales, and “The Best of Me” is no different. The viewer is taken on a rollercoaster of emotions as history is revealed and the future remains unknown. Background scores add to the issues being played out on screen, anything from family drama to romantic turmoil and the ending still remains predictable.
Dawson and Amanda journey to a number of past locations when they reconnect 21 years later. The places chosen to film are remote and laced with the beauties of nature. This combined with music toned for the scenery and mood make for a vivid flashback of their whirlwind romance.
Sparks lives up to his name. Throughout the film viewers gain hope for the future of Dawson and Amanda, but when the final credits roll they will be left somewhat unsatisfied. Although all questions are answered, there is still the feeling of unease and the desire for an alternate ending. In all concluding factors, “The Best of Me” follows suit of every other Nicolas Sparks movie: predictable and heart-wrenching.
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