There’s a peculiar sense of anxiety that accompanies the watching of a Nicholas Sparks adaptation; it’s never if tragedy strikes, but when. The opening scene of 'The Choice' occurs in a hospital, with handsome young vet Travis (Benjamin Walker) striding sadly but purposefully forward, clutching flowers. The disaster has already happened, but it takes a flashback spanning seven years to learn exactly what horrific punishment Sparks has in store for his characters this time. Meanwhile, know this: as usual, love will be declared, tears will be shed, rain will fall, stars will be gazed at and dogs will be shamelessly treated as humans by their owners.
Director Ross Katz lingers over the perfect landscapes of coastal North Carolina and the equally perfect contours of the beachwear-clad Gabby (Teresa Palmer) and Travis, whose early squabbling can only mean one thing: love at first sight. The two are soon sharing flirtatious moments and enjoying wholesome American pastimes like barbequing, church-going and truck riding, all while basking in a seemingly endless summer. When disaster does come, it is signalled by a pathetic rumble of thunder from an approaching storm cloud.
All of this would be harmless enough, even down to its bland message, delivered in husky voiceover by Travis – that the choices you make in life can change everything (well, duh). But Sparks’s insistent, socially conservative vision of life blares through the fluff: whenever Gabby says 'no', all any man hears is 'yes', while Travis triumphantly confesses his love for fossil fuels (seriously). 'The Choice': so many reasons to weep.