The Best of Me Movie Review


Photo by Gemma LaMana

Dawson Cole, played by James Marsden and Amanda Collier, played by Michelle Monaghan reunited after 20 years apart.

“You want me to fall back in love with you? How do I do that if I haven’t ever stopped?”

The Best of Me began as a novel by best-selling author Nicholas Sparks. In 2014, it became Sparks’ ninth film adaptation of one of his books. In this tear-wrenching story, directed by Michael Hoffman, we follow the lives of Dawson Cole, played by James Marsden and Amanda Collier, played by Michelle Monaghan who have unexpectedly reunited again after 21 years apart. The high school sweethearts’ lives drastically change when Dawson is put in jail, ripping apart any chance of a future together. Dawson’s family is from the wrong side of the tracks and during his teen years, he had a very bad reputation and not many friends. Amanda, on the other hand, was the seemingly picture-perfect girl with a good family and a strong head on her shoulders. So, just how do these two polar opposites end up together?

The story is set in two different time periods, jumping between when the couple first met in high school, and where they are in the present. The glimpses back in time show more about the character’s past and how they met, creating a flawless contrast and fit with the present-day clips. Troubled with his broken, abusive family, Dawson leaves home at 16 with nowhere to go. That’s where Tuck comes into the story. At 92 years old, Tuck Hostetler became the father Dawson never had and changed the lives of these two kids in ways that they couldn’t see just yet. Tuck was gracious enough to take Dawson under his wing and give him somewhere safe to live. The three of them fought the status quo and believed in Dawson, knowing he had a purpose in life.

Dawson and Amanda didn’t end up together, with their relationship not lasting past the walls of high school in their small Louisiana hometown. They both moved on with their lives stuck with the what-ifs of their relationship. Years passed and Amanda met a man named Frank. The two got married and had kids. Frank has his flaws and tends to abuse his ability to drink alcohol. Amanda feels alone and unheard. After serving his prison sentence, Dawson goes to work on an oil rig off the coast of Lousiana. After an explosion on the rig throws him into the water and nearly kills him, Dawson miraculously survives. A few days after the accident, both Dawson and Amanda receive letters in the mail informing them that their beloved Tuck has passed away. The two go back to their hometown to honor the life of their old friend, but the twist is that neither of them is expecting to see each other. You see, Tuck is wise, very wise, and he knew that their love would not fade no matter how hard they tried to ignore it. So he brought them both home and it was there that they both still felt that old spark. After a few days spent together, it is time Amanda gets back to her family. She then finds out that her husband’s drinking has continued to get worse, her son had to drive his drunk father home and it was then that the collision happened, sending her son straight to the hospital with severe damage to his heart.

And it is at this moment that the endings go two ways. There are two different adaptations of the film. The Best of Me and The Best of Me: Tears of Joy Edition. The first is relatively close to Spark’s book, while the other has a completely different ending sure to bring the waterworks.

The Best of Me is not your stereotypical love story. The way Sparks weaves their lives together and how much they feel toward each other is enchanting and draws you in until the very end. While there are many differences between the book and the movie, both stories are beautifully told in their own way.

To all you hopeless romantics out there: the next time you are bored on a rainy day or need a good love story to watch to pass some time, check out The Best of Me, available for rent or buy on Amazon Prime.