It’s based on a Nicholas Sparks book, it has Mandy Moore in it, and it would never be seen somewhere like Cannes.
But every single time I watch it, it surprises and moves me – and it ticks every single romance box. I think it’s a truly incredible example of storytelling, and I’ve just realised that I really need to get the book and study it until it falls apart.
Some of the best moments:
* Landon (the ultr-cool kid) asks Jaime (ultra-uncool reverend’s daughter) to run lines for the play with him. She agrees on one condition. She looks straight at him, through her awful fringe, dressed in her one sweater and shapeless dress and she says “You have to promise not to fall in love with me.”
One of the reasons this moment packs such a punch is another one of the great things about this movie:
* Jaime is a truly surprising character. She looks completely predictable, but every attempt Landon makes to pigeonhole her is thwarted. At one point, after trying and failing to make her aware of just how uncool she is, he says “You don’t care what anyone thinks of you, do you?” and she just looks at him, entirely unfazed, entirely sure in herself and says “No.”
You see a whole new world open up to him that he never would have thought possible – where your every action isn’t determined by what other people will think. Ditto when he insults her at school in front of his friends, and she just looks directly at him, blinks then nods. His actions haven’t impacted her at all, except for her to think “Ok, you weren’t who I thought.”
I think a surprising character is probably the number one thing that makes a book good.
* It’s absolutely convincing to begin with that there’s no way they’re going to get together. None of this “ugly duckling played by a model” business. They are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum, but somehow their falling in love, and the transformation it causes are completely convincing.
I’ll get back to you when I’ve figure out why.