May 1, 2012

All glory is fleeting: How ‘The Lucky One’ compares from book to film

The film adaptations of Nicholas Sparks' books provide a divine form of escapism: perfectly brimming with schmaltz, they provide a rare opportunity to delve into an over-the-top romantic fantasy land.

The Notebook is one of my favourite films. The story is truly heart-felt and touching. In a little more than two hours, Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling gripped me completely – their romantic connection was so intense and palpable that I became wholly connected with Ally and Noah's story.

In this ‘put yourself first’ world, it is nice to immerse yourself – even if it’s for just a moment – into a world where two people are so devoted to each other, and whose futures are so completely intertwined.

The Lucky One also has all the makings of a good chick-flick. Nicholas Sparks created characters that are real and fallible and a plot that is slightly fantastical yet believable and intriguing. The writing is also sufficiently engaging and overall the book offered an enjoyable reading experience.

The film – starring Zac Efron as the troubled marine Logan Thibault and Taylor Schilling as the tough single mother Beth – was similarly enjoyable. But it did lack that, pardon the pun, spark.

I almost can’t put my finger on it… Technically, it’s hard to fault this film. It is well made in the theatrical sense; the performances are sound; and it has many of the elements of a good romantic drama. In fact, I couldn’t help but make comparisons with The Notebook: the waterside setting, the rowboat scene, the kissing in the shower/ rain…

And yet something about this film doesn’t hit the mark. I kept waiting for that ultimate moment of the romantic drama – where the despairing lovers, who until this point had been kept apart, are finally coming together; where they scene slows down and they run toward each other in slow motion; and the music reaches its climax at the moment they meet.

The Lucky One did have that moment – but what was missing for me was that triumphant feeling of relief; that flutter in the heart when your hopes for the reunion of the characters is realised.

All I can put this down to Efron and Schilling… They do credible jobs independently, but their chemistry was not believable. I couldn’t get past the thought that Efron looked too young to embody Logan’s past, and too fragile to take control of Beth’s future.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh… Perhaps this is just a case of the film adaptation not meeting the reader’s preconceptions and expectations… It wasn’t a bad film, and yet I couldn’t help but walk out of the cinema with an overwhelming feeling of meh.

The verdict:
Book or Big Screen? Book
The film is: 3. A decent, credible, faithful adaptation

I would be very happy to receive your comments and feedback on ‘Book or Big Screen’ – please click on the below link to tell me what film adaptation you are excited about, or to suggest the book/film that I should review next.

What’s coming next? A review of The Time Traveler's Wife