Director: Adam Shankman
Cast: Shane West, Mandy Moore, Peter Coyote, Daryl Hannah
Synopsis: Based on a book of the same name by Nicholas Sparks, this is a teenaged romantic drama about a boy with an unpromising future falling for the town preacher’s daughter. As a result, he seeks to improve his ways, coming into conflict with those whom he previously considered his friends.
A review by Film Nerd.
I wouldn’t blame any readers looking at the above synopsis and cast list and be ready to label this film as one big cliché that is designed to target the female tween market with dreams of romance against all odds. The truth of the matter is that I can’t argue with this particular accusation. It is also clearly a vehicle for Mandy Moore, at this stage in her career just trying to break out of pop-singer into an acting career. This feeling is increased when the “school play” from the book here becomes a musical, clearly taking advantage of the lead star’s background. Further to this, she also supplies about half of the film’s soundtrack.
Yes, all of the above is true… for the first half of the film. The story is predictable and, though well told, does not break the mould. The acting is serviceable, though the opening scenes do not promise much. It was many years ago I first saw this film, and I remember watching the opening scenes thinking this was just a painful experience, I could have easily switched off before the third scene. I stuck with it though, and it was a good way to spend an evening, if you like this type of film, but really it was nothing special.
The eagle-eyed of you may have noticed that I did say I watched this years ago. Given the lack-lustre review so far, you may be asking why on earth I would be watching this film again. And the truth is I have watched this film many times since. The reason for the discrepancy is that this is just a review of the first half of the film. About midway through, it subverts the normal conventions of a film of this calibre. Out of nowhere it finds depth and a level of emotion that one would nor expect coming intro it blind. As such, I will say little more, as knowing how the film evolves is part of what makes the first viewing special.
Subsequent to this change, the acting also improves. Our leads Landon (West) and Jamie (Moore) are able to convey some very good raw emotion, despite at times being hampered by the scripting. The more experienced actors do much better throughout, with Hannah and Coyote as the parents of Landon and Jamie respectively. The rest of the teenaged supporting cast does well when there is some depth to the script, but when it is a join the dots teen romance, they do fare less well.
I am almost tempted to rate this movie twice. I would have put it at three stars when I was settled into the cadence of the first half, and though the technical elements of the film remain the same, the story does save this from being another DVD just collecting dust on my shelf that has only been opened once. As such, this second half almost warrants a 5, though this could also be partially due to the jump in story quality that is entirely unexpected. If the teen romance is a genre you try to avoid, keep avoiding, as you will not have the patience to get to the end credits. Also, this is a film that discussed the power of the love of God, so if you are atheistic or offended by these sensibilities, run away from this film screaming. However, if you are open to this type of film though, rent it, stick with it, and there are rewards to be received as a result.
4 stars (out of a possible 5)
A Walk to Remember on IMDB
A Walk to Remember on Rotten Tomatoes