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The Lucky One: Cheesy Chick Flick
We’ve all seen, at the very least, one Nicholas Sparks film which is enough to figure out the formula that has probably made him into a millionaire by now. While they’re usually super cheesy, they sweep you along in a torrent of emotion. You laugh, you cry, you swoon and you leave the cinema happy. But even with adjusted expectations, The Lucky One isn’t particularly entertaining.
The film is completely centred on the romance and so there’s absolutely nothing to distract from Zac Efron’s zombie-like state. Or from the film’s frightfully cheesy dialogue. Or from the fact that it packs a whole hoard of clichés into an hour and a half in a desperate plea to activate our tear ducts.
Efron plays Logan, a marine stationed in some Arab country (turns out to be Iraq) fighting the scary brown men. The morning after an ambush, he finds a picture of a blonde chick with the words ‘keep safe’ on the back. He carries the picture around with him everywhere, like a talisman, and lo and behold, he cheats death several times while a ton of people around him die. Traumatized, he returns to America with the aim of finding the girl in the picture and thanking her for being his guardian angel. He tracks her down, is unable to show her the picture or tell her why he’s there, takes a job near her and they soon fall in love. The blonde girl turns out to be a single mum by the name of Beth (Schilling) who has an abusive ex who keeps threatening to take their kid away from her and who doesn’t like the fact that she’s seeing Logan.
Out of the two leads, Taylor Schilling is definitely the least offensive, though Blythe Danner, as Beth’s grandmother, despite being the most watchable person on screen, was a rather head scratching piece of casting. Beth’s mother would be understandable but grandmother? Either she’s found the fountain of youth or Beth looks far older than she actually is. Schilling’s character fluctuates between brave, selfless mother and helpless female, both of which only require her to stand around looking pretty which isn’t exactly difficult for someone who looks like Katy Perry’s blonde twin. All in all, she’s pleasantly bland. Efron on the other hand looks like a buff, tanned corpse. His character is supposed to be grieving for all the friends he lost on duty but what we get from Efron is a complete lack of emotion. When he’s not showing off just how nice he is by playing with Beth’s kid, he’s standing around blank faced, looking stiff. Resembling a teenager isn’t helping his cause much either.
The lack of tension is what really does the film in though. The Notebook had a sense of urgency about it. You genuinely rooted for the couple to be together even though they weren’t necessarily pleasant characters. Part of that was Amy McAdams and Ryan Gosling’s chemistry which Efron and Schilling lack but on the other hand there was an actual obstacle keeping them apart. In The Lucky One, their troubles are more hiccups than roadblocks.
This film is really only recommended for die hard Nicholas Sparks fans or people who don’t mind staring at beautiful actors, sun drenched scenery and a gaggle of adorable dogs in lieu of a decent story. Stay away if you’re prone to incessant eye rolling.
The latest low-budget Blumhouse Productions horror production, Jessabelle; a voodoo-worshipping Louisiana-bayou set thriller that is sadly, not as scary nor as ghostly as it wants itself to be.
Set in a misty Louisiana, Jessabelle follows Jessie (Snook); a woman dealing with the loss of her fiancé and unborn child to a car accident that has also put her in a wheelchair. With her life seemingly in ruins, Jessie is left with no choice but to move back into her family home with her estranged, alcoholic father, Leon (Andrews).
Uncertain of what the future holds, Jessie finds it difficult to adjust to her new life, not least because she has to spend her nights sleeping in her deceased mother’s bed. Soon after, though, her life takes on a new route of mystery when Jessie discovers a secret box – labelled Jessabelle, packed with seemingly worn-out VHS tapes. Filled with mysterious recordings of her mother’s tarot-reading to her unborn child – whom Jessie assumes is her – she finds comfort in seeing her mother, though Leon insists that she dispose of the tapes.
Intrigued by the cryptic messages and her father’s strange reaction to her findings, Jessie decides to dig deeper and along with old-friend, Preston (Webber).
The atmosphere and air around Jessabelle could be described as relatively eerie and the film maintains a degree of plausibility – at least more so than many of its peers. When you dig deeper to the heart of the story, however, the film comes up short and is rather timid for a horror film. This is made all the more obvious by the fact that the film almost insists on using every clichéd horror trick in the book.
Despite the plot’s lack of edge originality, Snook – previously seen in movies such as Sisters of War and Not Suitable for Children – manages to command the screen relatively well, while Webber was equally pleasing as Jessie’s Knight in Shining Armour.
Despite a reasonably promising build-up and a commendable attempt to bring a certain verity to a genre that requires more suspension of disbelief than most, the pay-off just isn't satisfying.
Based on Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel of the same name and directed by the truly great Mr. David Fincher, Gone Girl, a delightfully engrossing and terribly disturbing tale of marriage, love and lies has emerged as one of the best psychological thrillers in years.
Set in a quiet town in the state of Missouri, the story is centred on Nick (Affleck) and Amy Dunne (Pike); a married couple who have shared a relatively happy life for over five years. That is until one day, Nick returns home to discover that their home has been vandalised and that Amy has mysteriously disappeared.
The case is taken up by Detective Boney (Dickens) and Officer Gilpin (Fugit) and the search for Amy catches the attention of the media, who immediately paint Nick as being the number one suspect.
With the media and the police all over him, he decides to hire renowned legal defence attorney, Tanner Bolt (Perry), who might be able to help him clear his name. However, if he is as innocent as he says he is, why does he need a lawyer if he doesn’t have anything to hide?
If you haven’t read Gillian Flynn’s novel and you’re unfamiliar with the story then you’re probably better off not reading the plot; the less you know about it, the better. What you do need to know, however, is that manipulation, deceit and desperation are the key themes explored here and in true Fincher fashion, nothing is as it seems and no one is who they say they are. Amusingly, there’s plenty of dry-humour to be found hidden underneath all of its layers and facades as well as a few implicit stabs at the media and all of its excessive meddling and unwarranted exploitations.
Affleck is almost perfect as the grieving husband who you don’t know whether to console or scold; his quiet and innocent demeanour is key and he manages to keep the aura of mystery all the way throughout. As his missing wife, Pike is equally affecting and her lingering and enigmatic presence is definitely deserving of the same amount of praise, if not more.
In the end, Gone Girl is a must-see; provocative, smart and incredibly engaging, this is Fincher - the man who bought us Fight Club, Se7en and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – at his best.