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The Lucky One - Review

The Lucky One

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 1.5 out of 5

ZAC Efron fails to convince as a traumatised yet lovestruck Iraq war veteran in this latest film adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel.

In fact, The Lucky One is only really notable for featuring a star-making turn from Taylor Schilling, as the object of Efron’s affection. But she alone cannot save an otherwise terribly contrived and painfully inconsequential film.

The plot picks up in Iraq as Efron’s soldier, Logan Thibault, goes to pick up a photo he has found in the rubble, thereby just evading a bomb that kills several of his colleagues.

Crediting the woman (Schilling) in the photo as his guardian angel, he resolves to go looking for her once home, eventually tracking her down to a dog sanctuary.

But he is unable to tell her the truth behind his arrival and instead falls in love, invoking the wrath of her jealous ex-husband (Jay R. Ferguson), who also just happens to be the town’s lawman.

Everything about The Lucky One feels contrived, whether it’s the flimsy plot device driving the central romance or the one dimensional nature of most of the characters.

Yet even these failures pale by comparison to the big bug bear concerning the film’s shallow depiction of Efron’s war veteran, which paints a romantic gloss over the harsher reality of the Iraq war. You expect a certain amount of schmaltz from Sparks but setting it against such a raw backdrop feels ill-advised.

Efron, too, never gets under the skin of his character beyond looking lovelorn or doing the right thing. Indeed, most – if not all – of his big emotional scenes occur off-camera, almost as if director Scott Hicks was aware of his shortcomings.

Far more convincing is Schilling’s Beth, who does the bulk of the film’s heavy lifting and really does emerge from the experience with her reputation enhanced.

Unfortunately, for everyone else involved this is a painfully slow affair to forget that has the dubious distinction of being the worst of Sparks’ adaptations so far (Dear John included).

The lucky ones are those boyfriends and/or husbands who don’t get dragged along by their loved ones to see it.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 105mins
UK Release Date: May 2, 2012