“The Choice” would probably be better titled as “The Indecision”. While it is true that there are significant choices presented to the main characters within the film, there is very little choosing actually done. Instead, most of the conflict, for both the male and female characters in the romance, is solved by simply waiting and refusing to pick one of the options. This is significant for one reason and one reason only: “The Choice” is based off of a novel by Nicholas Sparks. For those who don’t enjoy a little Spark(s) in their life, this film will not change that. For those who enjoy his work (even if they don’t like to admit it), the movie delivers what should be expected.
Boy meets girl. Girl doesn’t like boy. Boy likes girl. Girl likes boy. Happiness between girl and boy. Conflict between girl and boy. Resolution between girl and boy. It’s almost too predictable to say, but all of the plot points can be deciphered pretty early in the film. Teresa Palmer plays Gabby, a medical student who becomes neighbors with Travis (Benjamin Walker), a ladies’ man who isn’t sure if he’s ready for a serious relationship. The most interesting thing done with the structure is the implementation of a 4th act. While this twist comes as somewhat of a surprise, it also makes the rest of the film feel a little too rushed.
While the relationship transitions from hatred to love at an incredibly fast pace, it is sold in part by Teresa Palmer and Benjamin Walker. It’s clear that they have a lot of chemistry together, and their banter injects the movie with a bit of life. Part of this may be due to the screenplay, and part of it the ad-libbing of the performers. The characters are still “surface-level perfect” and hard to like, but the two characters work together nicely. There are little hints of self-awareness dropped in by the actors, which puts them miles ahead of where the movie is on the whole.
The actors certainly look like they are having fun on set, but the film never matches this level of enthusiasm. There is not much that is noteworthy about the production value. The whole movie feels too methodical in its creation and forces forward each plot point. There appeared to have just been a simple shot list on set that was followed with no real experimentation. It’s clear that there was hard work and ability involved, but no real passion. At its best, the film is technically competent.
For the first two acts, the movie is mildly annoying and predictable, but nothing too frustrating. Then, the third act happens. Without giving away too much, the film doubles down on emotional manipulation and includes a difficult moral dilemma for the sake of having a difficult moral dilemma. When this narrative pivot is introduced to the movie, it makes sense why so much of the story actively avoids choosing. Any significant choice to this plot element would have seemed unsatisfying. What’s irritating is that there were some interesting choices the film could have made leading up to this point, but much like the narrative, the film avoids these choices. It’s only a shame that the movie’s end result wasn’t as shiny and special as the character’s. 3/10.