The vitality and attractiveness of the young couple in this love story swept
me off my generally too-cynical feet. Admiration was mixed with envy as
old-fashioned romance at arms-length evolves slowly into serious life
committment. The actors chosen to portray it couldn't be more engaging,
especially at first.
But the elder version of these two, whose reminiscence from their past is what
evokes the lively sparks from their youth yanks a curtain off the proceedings
revealing the contrived framework of a simple, oft-repeated plot. Take
away Rachel McAdams' utterly refreshing spirit, whose mark is made indelibly
here, and there's little left to justify a big screen release.
Yes, of course, director Nick Cassavetes is putting his mom to work, and
there's no little talent in Gena Rowlands' performance as a memory impaired
once-beautiful, still attractive, institutionalized woman. And James Garner
pairs up believably as her amazingly faithful and devoted husband but, in the
end, there are those whose hearts will be aflutter and those who will
regret the time spent. If you like Harlequin novels, consider it a must see.
Or, perhaps a better guide are the works of Nicholas Sparks on whose novel
this is based. If you cried over his "Message in a Bottle" [the book or the DVD] or another of his sad love stories, "A Walk to
Remember," [the book] this one's for you.
Production values are fine with a particularly stunning visual in the boat
scene. The waters are carpetted by white ducks and geese whose numbers
are so great you can barely see the river's surface. It's calendar art of
natural beauty that's pretty breathtaking, and it supports the emotional
content of the film just as exquisitely as planned.
To be fair, the film achieves its purpose of emotional manipulation nicely
and will likely pay off handsomely at the boxoffice. After all, there are
plenty of filmgoers who are only too happy to exercise the tear ducts and
soak a few hankies. As for Rachel McAdams, she justifies the price of
admission for a wider demographic and we can only wait for the career path
she's now most assuredly on.
~~ Jules Brenner