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Film review: The Choice - beautiful people fall in love in 11th Nicholas Sparks adaptation

Set in a kind of idealised all-American community that only exists in beer commercials, The Choice is escapist fantasy for the hopeless romantics - and as such succeeds wholeheartedly

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 February, 2016, 3:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 February, 2016, 3:00pm

The perfect lives of two beautiful people living in an idyllic small-town setting are thrown into chaos when they fall in love in The Choice, the eleventh screen adaptation of a work by hugely successful pulp romance author turned film producer Nicholas Sparks - think John Grisham without the law degree.

Southern charmer Travis (Benjamin Walker) is knocked off his feet by new neighbour Gabby (Teresa Palmer), only to discover the medical intern is dating Dr Ryan McCarthy (Tom Welling), from the local hospital. But when Ryan is called out of town, Travis makes his move — egged on by his sister (Maggie Grace) and father (Tom Wilkinson). True love blossoms, but what will happen when Ryan returns?

The Choice of the film’s title is not only Gabby’s obvious quandary, but also one Travis must make years later, as the central story is framed around a clumsy medical situation that could jeopardise everyone’s happiness. Not that there is any doubting the outcome in a Nicholas Sparks story, inevitably set in a kind of idealised all-American community that only exists in beer commercials.

Sparks’ characters are financially stable Christians with good jobs and beautiful houses, who spend their weekends cruising the waterways and slurping cold ones on their porch as the sun sets on another day untroubled by real world problems. In this universe, romance is the only cause for concern, and fidelity means nothing when acting on destiny written in the stars.

While The Choice certainly isn’t for everyone, there is something refreshing to be wrung from such an unabashedly earnest and wholesome world view. Unrealistic for sure, but no more so than comic book superheroes or quasi-religious interstellar conflicts. The Choice is escapist fantasy for the hopeless romantics – and as such succeeds wholeheartedly.

The Choice opens on February 11