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.

Movie Review: Into The Woods

*spoilers maybe?*

Into The Woods was an amazing movie — it was absolutely wonderful, grounded in reality fantastically. It had a somewhat bitter end maybe, but that aspect of the production just reflected life so brilliantly.

There were many great moments throughout, both deep and not so. The way the characters were portrayed made them more grounded in reality as they were all less like fairy tale personalities, but more substantially authentic and tangible as people. The movie fundamentally threw out the generic portrayals of all these familiar characters and made them more gritty, which is certainly seen through the Baker’s Wife, whose firm resolve is to remove the curse and get with child, caring not who she would step on to get what she wants.

These traditional characters do not take up their expected mantles conventionally in their respective fairy tales and it is a completely refreshing take on everything and everyone.

In most of the typical fairy tales, the princes are these wonderfully unattainable man-forms, with crazy good looks and charm. It is also assumed that they are very sincere in their devotions. However, in this movie, Cinderella’s prince is far from that, as he is a flirt and seducer of women, even when he is already married. The Baker, on the other hand, is breathtakingly loyal, and this makes him so much more endearing as a man; he subtracted points from the prince’s manly quotient through his way of handling responsibility, his kindness, and his tact.

The Witch, instead of inflicting plain cruelty and pure heartlessness, appeals sympathy; she is neither good nor bad, as her life and emotions are poured out over the course of the whole movie. The same goes for the other main characters, as they struggle to reach their dreams and wishes. Save for a few, most of the characters were multifaceted and three-dimensional, offering up a lot of complexities to their persons.

Another facet of the movie that resonated really well was the organic way in which all the characters somehow meet one another in the woods. There were no forced meetings and every single one of them fed off of something from one character to another, which helped tie all of their stories together in a sophisticated manner.

The thoughtful consideration towards all of the characters’ idiosyncrasies really made this a very intelligent movie to watch — all of the characters had an important role that helped move the plot along — especially with its very grounded ending, which basically communicated the following idea:

“You can wish for all the jewels in the world — wanting and yearning for so much more — but life will only ever give you what is truly right for you. No more, no less.”

All in all, it was a great movie musical adaptation, with great actors who did their characters justice. The visuals, along with the great soundtrack and vocals, helped along the plot and made it an amazingly elevated experience.

Oh! One more thing. Everything was flawless (not so for some maybe, but quite so for this reviewer); one very entertaining moment in the movie was when the two princes ran into each other in the woods and sang “Agony” together in true bromance fashion. Both were so extremely engrossed and full of themselves that their musical performance brought on much hilarity by the way they acted.


I just absolutely loved the movie and everyone in it.

Chris Pine’s performance in his princes-duet song was surprisingly good, to say the least, and shocked me quite a bit. Meryl Streep, in all her witchy glory, gave a wonderful performance. Emily Blunt’s Baker’s Wife and James Corden’s Baker made such an endearing pair. Anna Kendrick was as pitch perfect as ever. The two children, Lilla Crawford and Daniel Huttlestone, gave really charmingly impressive performances at their young ages. Christine Baranski’s evil stepmother portrayal was great to watch, especially the shifting nuances on her face to portray her disbelief, then acceptance of defeat when Cinderella is taken away by the prince as his true bride.

Johnny Depp’s very brief screen presence as the wolf, despite what some say, did not detract from the movie for me, but just added to the idea that in life, people will fleetingly meet wolves who will eventually take their leave. Not necessarily through their deaths, of course.

Oh, I know I’ve failed to mention some actors, but these were some of the characters I mainly focused on.

On a totally different vein from the movie, yet related in a way, after-a-movie-has-just-finished-restroom-lines can be nuisances, especially if the line is really long and a woman who is in a stall is audibly texting furiously, despite the really long line outside. It is pure agony as one stands there holding it all in, while berating oneself for having drank two bottles of drinks (one bottled milk tea and one bottle of water). But I now understand the presence of toilet music. It may not be as much help, but on some level, it is soothing and calming. It lessens the urge to do something stupid due to annoyance.


To note, I actually wrote most of this on my way home after the movie ended, because I was just completely overjoyed by having watched it. I just couldn’t help myself.

Soundtrack stuck in my head now…*hums “Into The Woods”*…

It was truly inspirational.

Also, I discovered a side of my iPod I never was aware of on my way home…

 

Anything But A Memory by Chasing Change

Very bittersweet lyrics, this song has.

Irresistible by Wisin & Yande

Don’t really understand Spanish, but the beat was nice. I should probably read up the English translation of the Spanish letras.

In retrospect, the movie had more of a bittersweet end that closed all the lose ends of the film, yet opened up possibilities for all the remaining characters, as they move on in their lives despite all their loses.

Growth is truly at the core of this movie.