Early in the movie there’s an unpleasant scene on an oil rig with lots of fast action and noise, where I had to hide my eyes; I don’t deal at all well with that kind of thing. There are a few other scenes in the film of a similar nature, including a very dramatic and horrific one near the end. However, the majority of the story is much more relaxed; it’s a love story, essentially, but takes place in two different time periods.
Amanda (Liano Liberato) and Dawson (Luke Bracey) fall in love as teenagers. Dawson is from a very troubled home, and Amanda’s father really doesn’t want her associating with him, despite recognising that Dawson himself is unlike the rest of his family. But they are determined to be together… until a horrific incident happens.
However, the majority of the story takes place twenty-five years later, when they meet (now played by Michelle Monghan and James Marden) due to the wishes of an old friend who has just died. They both have a lot of anger and find it hard to forgive each other; Amanda is married with a son, although Dawson has remained unattached. Reluctant at first, they find that they have a lot to talk about - and the story gradually unfolds, with flashbacks to the past, interspersed with the things that have to be sorted out in the present.
Other than the violent scenes - and some of them really are very unpleasant - we thought it very well-made. The younger actors playing the main roles are excellent, and worked closely with the two main actors, to make the parts seem consistent. The settings are typically American, but work well; I struggled at the start to understand all the accents, but that gradually became easier.
The ending was predictable but, frankly, unbelievable - and not at all pleasant. However, when we looked at the extras we discovered an alternate ending, which we watched in full, and thought considerably better. I wish there was some way we could make that into the correct ending, connected with the rest of the story.
There were also some short interviews with each pair of characters and Nicholas Sparks, who wrote the original novel on which this film is based.
It’s rated 12A in the UK, PG-13 in the US, which - given the amount of violence - seems rather low to me. I’d rather have seen a 15 rating. However I suppose this is because there’s not a vast amount of bad language, no nudity, and only hints of intimacy other than one brief scene where little is left to the imagination.
I'm glad we saw it; it was a bit different, and quite an interesting story. But I'd have preferred it with a great deal less violence.
Review by Sue F copyright 2015 Sue's DVD Reviews