Doctors beget doctors, vets produce vets, dogs have puppies, couples have children, and the only one who dies is a lizard. Unmourned, replaced quietly with another, “for how can you let its 10-year-old owner know?”.
Yes, even for a Nicholas Sparks film, The Choice keeps its ambition that low.
Or, you could argue, very, very high. It requires a leap of imagination after all to have a guy with a mane and biceps to envy (Walker, as Travis), a family vet business to inherit, a sun-dappled house running onto a lake to live in, a boat and a bike to drive as per fancy, and an island that may or may not be his (you never really know), to tell a “rich girl” he loves to go off to her “rich boyfriend”.
The woman he loves, Gabby (Palmer), is the only one not confused. And why should she be? A medical student, she occupies an equally fancy house next door with an equally loving dog for company. It isn’t clear what pays for all this luxury apart from her fiance, a doctor born of doctors who has his own private golf green.
This snapshot of all-round wellness gets better. Gabby and Travis find love on that aforesaid boat and during very many outdoor picnics and barbeques, amidst friends in equally loving relationships and Travis’s supportive sister (Grace), who nudges both in the right direction — helped along by a very sunny day that requires all to strip down to their swimwear. There is even Travis’s former girlfriend (Daddario) who comes to him once in a while in short crop tops but never for long enough for Gabby to worry.
We are still talking about the clothes because that’s the sum total of the film, till the last 20 minutes or so, when something actually happens. Considering The Choice begins with a grim visit to the hospital and that very portentous line — “The biggest secret of life is making decisions” — you can guess what that actually is.
Be happy for that lizard. It died early.
Directed by Ross Katz
Starring Benjamin Walker, Teresa Palmer, Maggie Grace, Alexandra Daddario, Tom Wilkinson