As Nicholas Spark's latest film adaptation, The Best Of Me offers classic romantic charm for those who loved 'The Notebook' and 'The Lucky One', writes Leanne Quinn...

One of the most eagerly anticipated romantic comedies of the year, “The Best Of Me”, based on the novel by acclaimed romantic fiction author Nicholas Sparks, was truly worth the wait. A tale of two teenage high school sweethearts Amanda (Michelle Monaghan and Liana Liberato) and Dawson (James Marsden and Luke Bracey), who are reunited after 20 years following the death of a mutual friend, find themselves faced with the possibility of second chances, the re-ignition of their first true love and dangers more threatening than when they were first together.

After receiving a phone-call from a state attorney, both Amanda and Dawson are forced back to their hometown, back to each other’s company for the first time in 20 years. Amanda, now a wife and mother, admits to Dawson that being a mother has brought her true happiness whilst explaining how life hasn’t been so kind to her. Dawson, however, having miraculously survived an oil-rig explosion is struggling to find the reason for his survival and toying with the possibility that his purpose in life is tied to the surprise reunion with his first love.

This epic love story, directed by Michael Hoffman, is packed with just the right amount of romance, twists and drama to elicit laughter, gasps, shock and tears from any audience. The film jumps from the present to the past, intrinsically filling in the blanks as it goes in perfect timing with the development of the story and the characters.

Dawson Cole, who was originally to be played by the late Paul Walker, was captured brilliantly by James Marsden and Luke Bracey who, along with Michelle Monaghan and Liana Liberato (Amanda) should be commended on their commitment to their respective characters, particularly in evoking the changes in character over time, guaranteeing not to disappoint anyone who has read the book previous to the release of the film.

This was one of my major worries about seeing this film; how true the script would be to the original novel. Too often we see upset and deceit when the film adaptation of a novel strays from the original storyline, especially when the book is so beloved. However, I can guarantee that a good 90% of the movie is exactly in line with Spark’s story; the only noticeable difference being the down-play of Amanda’s relationship with her mother.

I cried, I laughed, I gasped and thoroughly enjoyed the film from start to finish.

We all remember our first true love and although everyone’s story is different, sometimes we can’t help but imagine what life would be like if, after time apart and life in between, we were to have one more chance to be with them again. Would life have made you into different people or does fate intervene ensuring that two people to will inevitably cross paths yet again?

Is anything left to chance or do we make our own luck?

Will Dawson and Amanda get another chance at a once-in-a-lifetime love or does life have other plans for these high school sweethearts?

With the soundtrack comprising of romantic talents such as Lady Antebellum and Hunter Hayes, “The Best Of Me” is a must-see for hopeless romantics who enjoyed films like “The Notebook” and “The Lucky One” and guaranteed to be the best, heartfelt, tear-jerker of 2014.