CAST: Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Blythe Danner, Jay Ferguson; DIRECTOR: Scott Hicks; SCREENWRITER: Will Fetters based on novel by Nicholas Sparks; EDITOR: Scott Gray; MUSIC: Mark Isham, Hal Lindes; GENRE: Drama; CINEMATOGRAPHER: Alar Kivilo; DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Brothers; LOCATION: USA; RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes
Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 2.5
Cinema rating: For viewers 14 years old and above
The Lucky One is the product of the imagination which also brought to the movie world Message in a Bottle and The Notebook. That told, the viewer would know what to expect, more or less, from this romantic escapist number, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks. While the plot is predictable, the movie tries to strike a balance between sheer coincidence (as the title implies) and stark reality. There is enough chemistry between Efron and Schilling to make their sizzling scenes credible, though the characters are familiar stereotypes: the precociously clever son Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart); the wise grandmother Ellie (Blythe Danner) who can spot good husband material at first glance; the ex-husband Keith (Jay R. Ferguson) a bully of a cop with inferiority issues. The cinematography is appropriate to the genre, and the location is an enviable setting for a coincidence-laden romance whose foundational elements are the woods with a brook in the backyard, sunlit days of bathing dogs, a placid lade for rowing and chatting, and a lifestyle that thrives on meeting the characters’ simple needs.
The Lucky One would have deserved the PG-13 rating given by the MTRCB if the bed scenes had been pruned considerably or treated with more subtlety. Even if other critics might say “But this is America”—where premarital sex is almost de rigeur—still CINEMA would classify The Lucky One as an adult movie . The one character here that exhibits an unexpected but acceptable change is Beth’s ex, Keith, who switches from insufferable bully to lifesaving father. Credit goes to Ferguson’s sensitive acting—as a bully you’d wish a bigger bully would teach him a lesson, but when he softens watching his son playing the violin with a man he is jealous of, and then switches back to being a bully the next scene, you could see a bad man wanting to be good but can’t become one as yet. The viewer can resonate with this conflicted character because he is so close to being real.