Movie Review: The Choice

First off, I never really ever wanted to ever watch a Nicholas Sparks movie. Ever. I never really truly put too much faith in romantic love, most especially when written as a love story. And even more especially so if written with a happy ending. There’s just too much sadness in the world I’ve encountered over the years that it seemed impossible to ever see those romantic happily ever after stories in movies actually come to life or translated into reality successfully (with the exception of my parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles). I just trust logic so much more than emotions, which can be oh-so explosive at the worst of times.

But when someone tells me to try and watch a romance movie — a Nicholas Sparks one, no less, to which I’m highly averse to — I’d hear them out and then leave the movie on my desktop to gather dust (figuratively). Now, however, I finally have watched a Nicholas Sparks movie. And all out of pure curiosity too.

The first things that come to mind while recalling the movie’s details would be the words “beautiful” and “deep” and “touching”. Absolutely. I may have judged things too quickly through non-rose tinted lenses before, by quickly dismissing this Nicholas Sparks movie, but I guess it very much is worthwhile.

Love is all about taking risks. Or rather, that’s what Alain Badiou seems to imply (review from brainpickings.org). It’s a “tenacious adventure” and has the ability to unite people despite differences, as it forces two individuals to see the perspective of another; from the perspective of two and not just one. It supposedly triumphs over “time, space, and the world”.

The risk factor, the adventure, and the tenacity when dealing with love were distinctly portrayed in the movie. Even though Gaby was still with Ryan, Travis still happened. And apparently, that choice made the greatest difference in both their lives.

It was touching how Travis fought against all odds for Gaby time and time again. From the night they had dinner at her place (to the detriment of her dishware, cutlery, and stacked papers), until the very end, he never let go of her. And Gaby’s Point that he created in honour of his love and loyalty to her was endearingly sweet of him as well. Gaby, in turn, remained loyal to him and they stuck together through both the thick and the thin. How wonderful, no? Wouldn’t it be nice to have that?

I never intended to watch a Nicholas Sparks movie ever, because I don’t put too much faith in romantic love stories with faultlessly happy endings (especially when there’s rampant overuse of unrealistic clichés full of fakery). There’s just too much sadness in the world for these romantic happily ever after stories to ever come to life or be translated into reality successfully (with the exception of my parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles, lucky buggers that they are). Logic is so much more trustworthy than the torrid affair emotions are, which can be oh-so explosive at the worst of times. Maybe I’m just too abnormally pragmatic and pessimistic. Or highly fearful of vulnerability and letting go of the control I’ve tried to maintain in my life.

I do yearn for the fabled love that is the fascination of most people though. And this movie sold love far too well to my despair. “The Choice” is a beautiful movie, a nice little piece of art in the midst of many others like it. On first watching this, it actually convinced me that something similar to what Travis and Gaby have is possible for everyone (and, dare I say it, even me), but on the 5th time watching it, it just seems too idealistic. Is it really possible?

Life is filled with choices and there’s no escape from that. That’s more or less what Travis said in his opening voiceover monologue in the movie. We’re consumed by this act every single day, even if we may not be fully aware of it. And sometimes our choices make or break us and our lives. Because, simply put, the act of choosing is the one thing that makes us all fully aware of our existence. Without being able to do so through free will, we wouldn’t be the humans that we are. But sometimes, doesn’t it just seem like the choices we end up making lead us to our own misery anyway?

The passion Gaby and Travis both had for one another was palpable. It was sudden and unpredictable. But what Gaby had with Ryan was steady and comfortable. She had love from both ends, but both were very different kinds. And from the choice she made, passionate love overruled familiar love. But is this the case in reality as well? Isn’t the familiar as good as passion? They are both still eros though, aren’t they? Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree right now though…

Anyhow, love in books and movies are just imitations of reality and is just a shadow of what could actually be there. Plato will support me on that, I believe. Encountering love in reality would be better, I suppose, but how will I even know what it is, if I don’t know how to identify it? It could be thrown in my face and, knowing me, I’d still be dumb to what’s obviously there. Where’s the how-to guide to love? Love stories aren’t how-to guides, they’re just, as already said, imitations of reality.

While love can be the amazing thing Gaby and Travis experienced, it’s also scary because of the potential hurt and rejection one can encounter. Just look at Boomerang girl and Ryan. They loved, but to no avail. True, Ryan meets someone else and starts a family with whoever that is, and Boomerang girl also most likely met someone else, but before that could happen, they were met with pain. I guess to simplify things, one can either be a Gaby/Travis or a Boomerang girl/Ryan in life. And this will all depend on the choices one makes.

How, though, did the attraction happen? I tried analysing it through repeatedly watching it, but it still mystifies me. I suppose I’m over-thinking it instead of just enjoying the movie as it is, but I guess I just can’t settle with not over-thinking things. That may include many sleepless nights due to floating thoughts, but I’d rather that than an empty mind. I’ll just go mull some more about all this, to WALK THE MOON’s “Aquaman” and “Avalanche”. At its very core though, love can both be complex and simple at the same time.

”You bother me” – must someone really have to bother someone else for it to be love? Agape seems easier.

 

tl;dr
A beautifully tear-jerking movie that had me watery-eyed and screaming at the idiot characters (who didn’t actually turn out to be too idiotic) most of the first part of the movie, but then thinking deeply for the rest of the movie, because of how dang deep things got.

Gorgeous vista. Truly amazing. I’d love to have been part of the production crew behind this film.

 

This, however, still does not convince me to watch any other Nicholas Sparks movie. I am still allergic to tears and too much heart-warming feelings in one go. Who knows how I became this way.

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