Lucky One, The
- Released: Thursday, 19 April 2012
- Runtime: 101 mins.
- Distributor: Roadshow Films.
This film is based on an American best-selling novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks (2008). It tells the story of a U.S. Marine Sergeant, Logan Thibault (Zac Efron), who returns to his country after his third tour of duty in Iraq. He claims that the only thing that kept him alive during the war was a photograph of a woman he didn’t even know. After being traumatised by the death of his close friends in battle, he finds her photograph half-buried in the sands of Iraq, and she becomes his good-luck charm, after moving away to pick up the photo actually saved his life. Back at base, he tries to link the photo with someone, but no one claims it. On returning to Colorado, he can’t get the photo, or the woman in it, out of his mind.
At home, and suffering from post-traumatic stress, he searches through every image he can find on the Internet to look for a match with the photo that he has. The girl is Beth Clayton (Taylor Schilling), and he shows up at her door in North Carolina, and takes a part-time job at the kennel run by her and her grand-mother, Nana (Blythe Danner). There are complexities in Beth’s life. She is a divorced woman with a young son, Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart), and she has learnt to survive by means of inner strength and total devotion to Ben. Beth mistrusts Logan initially, but a romantic relationship builds up slowly between them. At first, he keeps the photo secret, and then reveals its importance to her in circumstances that force him to explain.
This is a story that is intended to have enormous appeal. An active solider survives the horrors of war in Iraq by holding onto the love of a woman, who is a stranger to him. The drama grows in intensity when Beth’s ex-husband, Keith (Jay R. Ferguson), who is a Police Officer with major anger problems, discovers Beth’s picture, and concludes jealously that Logan is stalking his ex-wife. When he angrily confronts Beth with the photo, she is horrified. She had given the photo to her brother, to keep him safe, and he is missing in action in Iraq, presumed killed. But when Logan tells her the real story about the photo, and how he thought he had found “an Angel in Hell”, romance blossoms again.
The film targets teenagers ready to be influenced by a sentimental tale of lovers kept apart by time and circumstance. Zac Efron is a teen idol, recently turned to serious role-playing in movies, and the film advocates that the future can be influenced by what appear to be coincidences. When that happens, those affected by the chance happenings come to know in time that fate and destiny are determining their life. It is an intriguing theme, and for some, it may well be true. But for others, it clearly isn’t.
The film is a sentimental one that plays intentionally with the kind of plots, which gain their reputation by offering entertainment to people, who are attracted especially by the search for romantic love, and willing to endure the frustration of finding romance that may, or may not, have a happy ending. As far as this film is concerned, which throws in some gritty realism for good measure, these themes deliver and Scott Hicks, an Australian director, does a competent job with them. Characteristically, it all comes right in the end, though there are rough times on the way through. According to type, the film’s message is relatively simple: what appears to be luck is actually destiny at work, travelling seemingly by chance towards true commitment.
This is a film that deliberately provides escapist fare. It says nothing about the morality of the war in Iraq. It stays away from any penetrating comment on character development, and it paints patriotic duty superficially with a rosy glow. One should take note also that the sex scenes between Logan and Beth are steamy, and the film tugs romantically at the heart-strings in a predictable way.