By Alwin M. Ignacio

            If there is one novelist who keeps the flames of love burning for an exponential number of people, it is without any doubt romance writer, Nicholas Sparks.

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            He authored 18 books (and counting), with some of them, becoming mammoth box-office motion pictures. Some of the most loved Sparks’ novels turned into movies are The Notebook starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, we can still recollect how Noah (Gosling) and Ally’s (McAdams) love for each other defied class difference, sickness, and lasted ‘til death do they part;  Message in a Bottle, starring Robin Wright and Kevin Costner, enjoys the title of being the highest-grossing Sparks movie all over the world and because of it, exchanging love letters became en vogue and the line “You are my one True North” has become a mantra of undying love and  Dear John, the drama-war film starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried is reportedly the best debut for a film based on a Nicholas Sparks novel.

            People are drawn to the novels and movies with a Nicholas Spark stamp because it usually features male characters that the author calls as “Joe Average” or guys who are just like your brother, cousin, or best friend. And who are skilled with their hands, do dirty and grueling work and yet, they manage to sweep every one’s feet because how deeply they fall in love and how strongly they express their feelings thru love letters, idyllic dates, and heroic deeds. 

            The female characters usually want to appear strong, when deep inside they are really vulnerable.  And when these women meet their own Joe Average, attraction, passion, and love are sure to spark.        

This love month of February, the 11th Sparks novel made into a movie is The Choice.

It tells the story of new neighbors Gabby Holland, a medicine student and Travis Shaw, a veterinarian who start off on the wrong side of the road, but manage to forge a friendship eventually.

            Gabby is preparing to settle down with her longtime boyfriend Ryan who is a doctor, and Travis is holding on to his belief that having a girlfriend would cramp his easygoing lifestyle.  But an irresistible attraction between them poses a challenge to their well-planned lives. 

Playing the lead parts are Benjamin Walker as Travis (from the Broadway play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, opposite Scarlett Johansson and the films Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Killer and In The Heart of the Sea),  Australian charmer Teresa Palmer (I Am Number Four), and Tom Welling (Smallville’s Clark Kent/Superman).

In a press release, Nicholas Sparks said, “The Choice may remind people of my first novel, The Notebook, a couple comes together and we watch their lives unfold. We see what eventually happens between them and the choices they make. Watching it, you may think the title refers to a choice that occurs early on, but there are plenty of twists and turns that make the story even more memorable and profound.”

Walker who gives life to Travis is a rangy 6’3”, square-jawed,  clear-eyed and with a hot body to boot. In the official documents about the movie, Walker described it as , “There are lots of stories about that, but this is about what loving actually is, people fall in love every day, but after that, the story is about how you keep it going and stick together? How do you protect each other? Travis and Gabby have to overcome serious obstacles to be together first and then life happens. He thought he was happy being alone, but once he gets a taste of what it would really be like to share his life with somebody, he fights for it.”

He carried on, “If you’re a fan of the book, it’s going to illuminate something new in the story. And if you don’t know the book, you’re going to want to go read it, because you’ll want to spend more time with these people.”

Travis’s reluctant love interest was portrayed by Australian charmer Teresa Palmer. As it turned out, Palmer, according the The Choice press release, is a huge Nicholas Sparks fan.

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 “I was 18 when The Notebook was released,” she confessed. “I had a Notebook-themed stationery set. You could write letters to your loved ones on paper printed with images from the movie. To have the opportunity to be a part of a Nicholas Sparks story was such a dream.”

When she read the script for the first time, she quipped, “Love is the heartbeat of this story, but it feels quite different from other Nicholas Sparks films. It’s still North Carolina. And there’s a rowboat, which is quintessential Nicholas Sparks. It’s romantic, but it can be just goofy as well. I love how funny it is and it had a lot od drama too.”

What hooked this Gliiter.ph to the whole movie was its earliest scene, when the two protagonists get off to a bad start. The two meet when Gabby storms over to Travis’ house, angry about the loud music and about the fact that his dog runs free and her dog is pregnant.

In this confrontation scene, Palmer is completely convincing as an infuriarted woman on fire, and Walker is most charming and funny as a well-meaning wise guy who finds himself caught off-guard by this powerful female force.

From that instant, I succumbed to the many events that will happen between the two whose sexual chemistry was most evident when they had their first weekend boat ride, and when they get into discussions of love, loyalty, and the universe and then they eventually fall in love, it was like seeing two of your friends who belong to different dimensions being pulled together to forge a bond that is stronger than love and friendship.

Adding more layers of magic to the film was its cinematography (it was so postcard perfect) and the gorgeous marshlands. In this movie, romantic love is put to an ultimate test – love is patient, love is kind, love is sacrifice and that prevails in the end.

            From Viva International Pictures and MVP Entertainment, The Choice is currently showing in cinemas nationwide.

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