By Vincent P. Rodgers

“The Lucky One”, based on Nicholas Sparks’ novel, tells the story of a young Marine named Logan (Zac Efron) who, while in Iraq, finds a picture of a woman he doesn’t know, yet he believes it was her picture that kept him safe. After returning home, he then finds the woman in the picture, who’s named Beth (Taylor Schilling), and starts to develop a relationship with her.

There’s a lot to like about “The Lucky One”. For one thing, the acting is better in this film, than some of the other installments in the Sparks films. The chemistry is a lot tighter between Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling, than it is between Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried, in “Dear John” (2010).  Moreover, it’s nice to see Zac Efron in a more mature role that’s far more dramatic than anything else he’s done to date, and that has a lot to do with the nature of the premise. Efron plays a returning war vet, who initially suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, which particularly makes this Sparks film feel less cookie-cutter, as the former subject matter still really hits home for a lot of families who have loved ones over seas. Sure, “Dear John” deals with war too, but the performances are not nearly as compelling, and neither are the scenes of combat.

Consequently, “The Lucky One” also looked better on a technical level. None of the other adaptations’ cinematography looked as good as the work in this film. As a film student, I was even impressed by some of the visual compositions that really enhanced the representation of the relationships between characters, as they unfolded. There were just little accents like that and subtleties in the performances, that I felt, really made this film stand out from some of its predecessors.

The only thing “The Lucky One” does not have going for it, is nostalgic mise-en-scene, as in “The Notebook” (2004). There’s no non-linear cross cutting between two different time periods. However, while “The Notebook” might still be more original and charming, “The Lucky One” is not as melodramatic and addresses present-day issues, such as the Iraq war, raising awareness of life for returning vets. Therefore, if you love Nicholas Sparks, it’s a 9/10, and even if you’re not a fan of the books, it’s easy to say that this film is definitely better than your average, run-of-the-mill, chick flick.


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