The death of an old friend reunites two former lovers after over twenty years. Amanda is now a wife and mother and Dawson is still single. With their feelings for each other still bubbling under the surface and Amanda’s marriage being in trouble, the pair have to decide where they are meant to be in life.
The Best Of Me (2014) – Director: Michael Hoffman
Running Length: 118 mins
Starring: James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Luke Bracey, Liana Liberato
Genre: Romance, Drama
Based upon the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks, ‘The Best of Me’ is split into two separate time periods, 1992, when Amanda and Dawson’s romance begins and blossoms and the present day where the two come back together after two decades apart. Spending more time in the past than the present, the audience can see the genuine spark and chemistry that grows between both characters, who are both excessively (perhaps unrealistically) likeable. Their friendship with widower, Tuck is genuine and he becomes somewhat of a father figure, particularly to Dawson who comes from an abusive family.
Much less time is spent in the present day which makes it difficult for the audience to relate to the characters’ journey. Neither seems particularly upset by Tuck’s death, a supposedly emotive opening to the movie which therefore fails to land to establish their former close bond with him. The actors playing Amanda and Dawson in the past (Liana Liberato and Luke Bracey, respectively) look absolutely nothing like the older versions of them (Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden) making the movie feel almost like a story about two separate couples. Another issue with the movie is that the characters are either all good or all bad; there is no complexity in any of them, thus making the story predictable and clichéd.
‘The Best Of Me’ had the potential to be genuine, heartfelt and realistic but was turned into a stale, dull movie. It is disappointing that the characters weren’t properly fleshed out as there was plenty of room to do this and, as the two big names at the helm seem to be simply going through the motions, it is not a film that the audience can become invested in.
IS ‘THE BEST OF ME’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
There is an accident on an oil rig, it rattles violently and several large poles fall from a height, while men are standing below. There is a large explosion and some people are hurt; one man is engulfed in flames, he screams in pain but another man quickly runs to help him. One man is close to an explosion which blows him off the side of the rig, he falls a long way into the water below; he is not injured in the explosion and there is no blood.
Several people spend time at Dawson’s family home shooting guns and they have aggressive dogs that bark and snarl. A woman sits on a man’s lap, facing him; she has bare legs and the man rubs her thighs.
Dawson’s father is abusive and uninterested in his education. He beats him – slapping and punching Dawson in the face, there is some blood and the boy later has a badly bruised eye. Later in the movie, Amanda sees several scars on Dawson’s body which he explains, his father gave them to him for ‘talking back’ or ‘disrespect’. There are more beatings and fights involving Dawson’s family throughout the movie.
A teenager who has snuck into a stranger’s garage and spent the night sleeping in their car is woken up by the owner by being poked in the chest with a gun. It is clear that the man has no intention of actually killing the teenager but is using the gun more as a warning and potentially for self-defence.
A teen boy visits a teen girl who is in her bedroom by going to her window. She sneaks out and they both sit on the roof where they kiss passionately.
Dawson and Amanda’s relationship becomes physical, they have a very strong connection and a deep respect for one another. Dawson makes sure that Amanda is sure she wants to go ahead before they start and their relationship continues afterwards. Some mild nudity is seen but there are no graphic shots.
A man is unexpectedly badly beaten. He is punched, kicked numerous times and has a deep cut on his forehead. The man is knocked out but forced to come round again so that he can be made to watch his attackers destroy a beloved part of his home. The attackers laugh and jeer at the man who is unable to protect himself. He is later found semi-conscious on the ground where he has been left.
Two adults kiss passionately and remove their clothes while sitting on a bed. It is clear that they become physically intimate. The woman wears just the man’s shirt the following morning which only just covers her and it is mostly undone down the front.
A man is attacked in his car by two men in a different car. They attempt to push him onto train tracks while a train is thundering past. The attackers then shoot at the man, trying to kill him. This attempt at cold-blooded murder could be quite disturbing for some kids.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
‘The Best Of Me’ is a cliché-ridden, predictable movie that is unlikely to be enjoyed by anyone but die-hard romance fans. Due to some sexual content and Dawson’s abusive family, we feel this movie is unsuitable for kids under the age of 11. We also recommend caution for parents who are unhappy with some of the more adult themes of the movie particularly the potential for adultery throughout and only a mild disapproval of a teenage pregnancy (a naive and rose-tinted view of young love with no consequences).
- Violence: 3/5 (a character is accidentally shot in the head, they are killed instantly and collapse to the floor. A gunshot wound is seen for several seconds which is a small black hole but there is no blood. A man is murdered by being shot in the chest, as he lays dying, he sees in a dream a loved one go to his side)
- Emotional Distress: 3/5 (a woman tells a friend about her young daughter who died of leukaemia at a very young age. This is sad but not overly distressing)
- Fear Factor: 2/5
- Sexual Content: 4/5 (A teen girl is pregnant; her and her boyfriend are very happy about becoming parents and they are both deeply in love)
- Bad Language: 4/5 (frequent mild to moderate cursing, some blasphemy)
- Dialogue: 3/5 (the dialogue focuses on teenage romance and adult relationships although there is no graphic language about intimacy)
- Other notes: Deals with themes of teenage lovers, unplanned teen pregnancy, the consequences of violence, taking responsibility for one’s actions, the effects that alcohol dependency can have on relationships, the possibility of adultery and being true to one’s feelings and emotions.
Words by Laura Record