The Best of Me is a 2014 American Romantic Drama film, based on the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks. The film was directed by Michael Hoffman, and starring James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Luke Bracey, and Liana Liberato.
In 2014, Oil Rig worker Dawson Cole (Mardsen) is caught in an explosion and blown off the rig. Awakening in the hospital, he is released with only superficial injuries, only to be informed that his friend, Tuck (Gerald Lee Mcraney) has recently passed away, and Dawson is summoned to the reading of Tuck's will. At the same time, Dawson's unhappily married ex, Amanda Collier-Reynolds (Monaghan), is also summoned. Together they learn that Tuck left his house to them, forcing them to spend time together cleaning up the house to eventually sell it. Interspersed with this timeline...
In 1992, Dawson (Bracey) meets Amanda (Liberato) when his friend's car stalls and she helps him push it out of the road. Dawson is currently facing the hardship of his violently abusive and criminal family, lead by his hot-tempered father Tommy. Running away from home, Dawson takes shelter in a stranger's garage, who turns out to be Tuck.
Tropes in this film include:
- Abusive Parents: Tommy Cole. To the point of eventually KILLING his own son.
- Accidental Murder: Either Dawson or his father accidentally killed his cousin when the rifle they were scuffling over discharged.
- The Alcoholic: Amanda's husband.
- The Atoner: Dawson has been sending money to his cousin's widow for years as a means of making amends for his death.
- Bittersweet Ending: Dawson dies, but Amanda's son Jared survives after receiving his heart, and she finally leaves her dead-end marriage and starts a new life.
- Contemplation Location: The top of the water tower for Dawson.
- Cool Old Guy: Tuck is no slouch when Dawson meets him, helped by his trusty rifle.
- Darker and Edgier: It's significantly more violent than any of Sparks' other film adaptations, with Safe Haven being closest to it. While the majority of Sparks' works include character deaths, this is the only time where one of the protagonists is murdered.
- Double-Meaning Title: The title initially refers to the fact that Amanda and Dawson bring out the best in each other. It also refers to the fact that Jared keeps the best part of Dawson alive after his death. His heart.
- Forever Fling: Dawson and Amanda's high-school relationship ends when Dawson is arrested. They reconnect after 20 years and decide to get back together, which is scuttled by Dawson's murder.
- Love Hungry: Young Dawson fails to take up young Amanda on her invitation for a date. She's so offended that she drives over to Tuck's place to yell at Dawson for not showing up.
- Lower-Class Lout: Dawson's family.
- Made of Iron: Dawson survives an explosion that launches him clear off his oil rig and then falls 100 feet into the ocean, and survives with barely any injuries. He spends part of the film wondering how he managed this.
- Recycled Script: Following Landon from A Walk to Remember, Dawson is the second Sparks hero to build his own telescope. This is also the second Sparks movie/novel to feature a Framing Device of younger and present day versions of the lovers. The first was The Notebook.
- Relationship Upgrade: Inverted. Amanda and her husband separate in the movie. In the book, they reconcile and commit to rebuilding their marriage, and even though it's never what she had with Dawson, things have genuinely improved by the book's conclusion.
- Revised Ending: Seen here. Jared and Dawson survive and he and Amanda finally embark on a relationship.
- Single-Target Sexuality: In the 20 years since Dawson last saw Amanda, he hasn't had a serious relationship with any other woman.
- Someone to Remember Him By: Variation. Amanda's son Jared is in a car accident the night that Dawson is murdered by Tommy. He receives a heart transplant from an anonymous donor (Dawson). Jared and Amanda both later learn this, meaning Jared is essentially keeping a piece of Dawson alive.
- Tall Poppy Syndrome: Dawson's criminal family look down on him for trying to excel in school, claiming he thinks he's superior to them, and actively try to sabotage his efforts to better himself.
- Teen Pregnancy: Dawson's cousin and his girlfriend, though their families appear to be very supportive.
- Their First Time: Amanda's most likely, and probably Dawson's too, although it's never established for certain.
- Uptown Girl: Amanda is wealthy, whereas Dawson's family is the epitome of white trash. Her father offers to pay his college tuition if he'll break up with her. To be fair, he appears to be genuinely worried for his daughter's safety rather than simply being a snob.
- White Sheep: Dawson and his cousin appear to be the only decent members of their family.