Nicholas Sparks’s novels-turned-books always manage to pull in a crowd of hopeless romantics, groaning companions, and fairy tale hopefuls. The Best of Me is the newest dramatic romance novel gone silver screen by Sparks, telling the story of Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) and Dawson (James Marsden). Marsden and Monaghan’s characters are cute and Southern in typical Sparks fashion; the twist of this tale is that the two haven’t seen in other in years, but are suddenly back in town to review the will of an old friend who has passed away.

PluggedIn’s Paul Asay noticed a positive spiritual element in the film, saying “the movie seems to be encouraging us to see some sort of divine hand in Dawson and Amanda's relationship.” There is “the idea of a plan behind all the randomness we see.” Despite this, Asay says the movie isn’t worth it; it “is a sexually charged, overwrought romantic fantasy, and I think most audiences will see it that way.” The Best of Me features a very married leading lady who falls into a relationship with a man who is not her husband. Asay suggests that the divine nature of the movie is twisted: “Some unseen hand pushed them toward each other and, apparently, practically forced them to fall into bed together, forsaking whatever commitments they might've already made to other parties.” Variety’s Justin Chang admits that Marsden and Monaghan’s “scenes together are easily the movie’s finest,” but this wasn’t the proper venue for them to finally take center stage. The Best of Me, which he calls “latest soap product to roll off the Nicholas Sparks assembly line,” just isn’t ...

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