Not so "Lucky One"
Published: Monday, April 30, 2012
Updated: Sunday, April 29, 2012 21:04
Two lonely people, both scarred in different ways by the war in Iraq, meet and fall in love in “The Lucky One,” the latest in a series of movies based on bestselling books by novelist Nicholas Sparks. Unfortunately, moviegoers are not so lucky if they bother to see this plodding, predictable drama.
Zac Efron (“High School Musical”) starts as Logan, a soldier in Iraq who finds a picture of a woman left behind by another soldier. After he survives three tours of duty, he considers the picture his lucky charm. When he returns home, he tries to track down the mystery woman. She turns out to be Beth (Taylor Schilling), a dog trainer living in Louisiana. Hoping to put his war experience behind him, he soon starts working at the kennel and develops romantic feelings for her. Beth lives with her grandmother (Blythe Danner, “Meet the Parents”) who raised her and her eight-year-old son Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart). Beth has also spent the past year grieving the death of her brother, who was killed in the war.
A major issue with this film lies in the fact that Zac Efron is not particularly convincing as a war veteran. Efron just seems like he is playing any other role, and he does not possess the acting range to show the troubled person underneath. Taylor Schilling, a relative newcomer to the silver screen with few movie credits, does not make much of an impression either. Emotional scenes seem beyond her capabilities. In a scene where she remembers hearing about her brother’s death, she simply does not rise to the occasion. The only real actor in the movie is Blythe Danner as Beth’s eccentric grandmother, who is always on hand to give advice, regardless of whether or not Beth actually wants it. Danner’s work steals the show.
Efron and Schilling are not helped by Will Fetters’s screenplay, which is cliched, contrived and manipulative. When Logan and Beth get off on the wrong foot, it is obvious that they are going to fall in love. It is also not surprising that Beth’s grandmother and son will bond with Logan first, before she comes around to the possibility of a relationship. Furthermore, even though Logan is supposed to be a troubled war veteran, there is little to show how and why. There are very few scenes in which he remembers the war at all, and those appear only when it is convenient to the plot.
On top of those glaring problems, there is also not much conflict between Beth and Logan, especially when they start to fall in love. So, to create conflict, the movie trots out her ex-husband, Keith (Jay R. Ferguson, TV’s “Evening Shade”). Keith seems to be mean and abusive for no other reason than that the screenplay requires this behavior in order to move the story along. He is only there because the film has to have a villain, and his character is strictly one-dimensional.
Director Scott Hicks brings none of the energy or enthusiasm he brought to his film “Shine.” Instead, his pacing is off, making the film seem slow enough that even the most patient viewer is constantly checking their watch. On the other hand, this movie is beautifully shot by cinematographer Alar Kivilo. Kivilo uses the location to his advantage, making Louisiana seem like a nice place to live, which provides a genuinely lovely backdrop for the romantic parts of the story.
“The Lucky One” is a disappointment as a romantic drama. The conflict is artificial, the characters one-dimensional and the acting run of the mill. Only Blythe Danner’s performance and the look of the film keep it from being a total dud.
“The Lucky One” receives 2 out of 5 stars.