“The Choice” was the film I started reviewing before Super Death Plague 2016 struck. As such, I’ve had a few weeks to think about why the movie didn’t work. The obvious answer is that it’s a Nicholas Sparks adaptation. But, it’s a little too easy to keep swiping at low hanging fruit. So much of what destroys the film is its inability to create dramatic structure. The promotional material for the film spoils the central relationship conflict to entice its target audience. Then, it tries to slide in a B plot that has little need to be created. It exists somewhere between “Love Story” and second rate Hallmark Channel original programming.
The modern romantic drama is stale and films like this don’t help. “The Choice” is compromised storytelling that exists to sell a finale to women without creating a first or second act. Fans of the source novel might say that the couple meeting as neighbors and then doctor banging their way together counts as a first or second act. Here’s my qualm with that. There is no conflict, little need for resolution and generally it’s just two pretty people sleeping around a small coastal town. The need to have the couple come back together is based on nothing more than boredom or quite possible a defective pregnancy test.
When “The Choice” finally wheels us into the finale, that’s where you’ll know what you expect out of a story. Nothing is earned by suddenly putting the film’s relationship in jeopardy to create the titular choice of the film. It also brings up a point that’s been sitting in the back of my brain while watching these movies. Why should anyone care about pretty people having a hard time? Fans treat said fiction as the film equivalent of a Harlequin romance novel, but why should high cost pulp entertainment be constantly recycled? Honestly, Sparks adaptations need to take a step back and see what works about the film. “The Notebook” can’t be the one adaptation that actually tried to improve upon the source material.