The Lucky One: Movie Review

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We get up close and personal at the premiere of Zac Efron's new movie.

Zac, Zac, Zac!

On the Easter weekend I headed out to Sydney's Bondi for the world premier of The Lucky One, and I am now suffering from industrial deafness.

The mere announcement that tween / teen star Zac Efron (High School Musical, Charlie St. Cloud, 17 Again) would soon arrive produced such an ear-splitting shriek from the hundreds of girls gathered around the red carpet that wheel-chair bound spectators old enough to remember the war went leaping for cover. The explosion that followed his appearance confirmed their fears. What little composure the crowd retained blew apart in the presence of its perfectly sculpted god. The ever-gracious Efron moved at a snail’s pace, snapping iPhone moments with swooning teens and signing anything that came within arm’s reach. When he finally entered the preview cinema I looked over to see a woman in her twenties frozen in a state of silent ecstasy. For a moment I considered helping myself to her chips. The rest of the world had disappeared; there was only her and Zac – 12 rows away, to be sure, but they were breathing the same air. That is, until he smiled, waved …and left. Then she broke down into uncontrollable sobs. “Zac’s gone … he’s … just gone…”

Yes, it was a positive relief when the film actually started. And though the scriptwriters trotted out all of the expected couple clichés – the brooding stranger, the woman touched by tragedy, the stolen kiss – they also managed to touch on a more serious side of destiny.

What is the movie about?

The Lucky One introduces us to Logan, a young marine sergeant traumatised by the friends he’s lost during Operation Iraqi Freedom. However his own life is saved one day when he walks a few metres to pick up the photo of an unknown American woman (Taylor Schilling). A mortar shell lands where he was standing moments before and Logan begins to look on this image as a visible manifestation of his luck. When he arrives home he’s determined to find this woman and thank her for saving his life. But a mix up on his arrival in Beth Clayton’s North Carolina town sees him employed as the assistant at her boarding kennel. As they fall in love the tongue-tied Logan worries about what his revelation will do to their relationship. Especially when he realises the photo he found was meant to have kept Beth’s dead brother safe.

Does 'destiny' control our lives?

The Lucky One contains all of the usual murmurings about a beneficent ‘Fate’ that guides our every footstep. Destiny took the tragedy of war and turned it into the beauty of love. Nicholas Sparks, the author of the book on which the film is based, says he doesn’t actually believe in fate or destiny but thought the story would be a good way to illustrate “… that people have the ability to influence the future in a way that seems coincidental and when that happens, the feeling of fate or destiny is amplified.” If so, he gave his characters a few too many coincidences on which to build their happiness.

But movie Beth actually hates the idea there’s some sort of higher power controlling their lives, because she realises that if it’s responsible for the good things, it can also control the bad. “So you’re telling me [my brother] died so that Logan could live?” she asks her grandmother. It’s the sort of Christian conundrum that romances rarely deal with. If God brings lovers together then isn’t He also responsible for keeping loved ones apart? The book of Lamentations is just one part of the Bible that holds no illusions on this matter:

Let [a man] sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him … Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.

In the end it’s Logan who hints at the comfort that can be had in the face of the worst tragedy. He recounts her brother’s last heroic moments and assures her, “He didn’t die for nothing.” That’s also happens to be the apostle Paul’s answer. He reminds the church at Rome that a reasoning mind sits behind everything. Even the worst occurrences are used to achieve God’s purpose for his servants, and our happiness with Him is a far better one than we could build for ourselves.

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