The Lucky One
This review first appeared in the Sunday Star Times, 22nd April 2012
If you’ve watched the trailer, you might feel you have seen the whole story before you even sit down. A young American marine finds a photo of a beautiful girl in the horrors of the Iraq war, and on his return home he goes on a mission to find her. Hmm, how do you think this will go? Zac Efron (Hairspray, Me and Orson Welles) is as talented as he is handsome, but could he redeem the inevitable, mawkish cliche of a Nicholas Sparks novel? Having baulked at The Last Song and The Notebook and avoided Dear John altogether, I felt surely not.
Certainly, the story is straightforward, the relationships pretty uncomplicated – but Efron and co-star Taylor Schilling (surprisingly lovely and natural in her first major role) somehow manage to scythe through the lack of narrative innovation and give us something with real heart.
Efron plays the shell-shocked marine, bulked-up and battle-scarred, locking down his natural charisma to play a deeply affected war vet. The fact he still manages to be compelling may, in this instance, have more to do with his manly physique than his usual boyish grin, but thanks to his chemistry with Schilling’s Beth (herself wounded by loss), Efron’s Logan presents as a good catch. He loves dogs, respects his elders, and practically has Protect and Serve tattooed on to his torso. Meanwhile, Beth is raising her son, battling a controlling ex-husband, and looks fabulous in floral dresses and cut-off shorts.
The fact that this isn’t awful must surely be down to director Scott Hicks. Hicks made Geoffrey Rush a star in Shine all those years ago. He has a good eye and sharp instincts.
Set in balmy North Carolina amongst golden hues and trickling streams, Logan may just find his peace and his place in life. It’s not new, it’s not clever, but it ticks the boxes.