Zac Efron is the piano-playing, philosophising, baby-faced ex-Marine in The Lucky One, a clunky romance in which a mysterious war veteran fetches up in Louisiana and makes himself useful as a handyman and general help around the house.
But what’s his secret? Who is he? And why does Beth (Taylor Schilling), separated from her boorish policeman husband, find herself drawn to him? Logan (Efron) is traumatised by Beth’s face. Finding a photograph of her on the battlefield and surviving combat, he considers her his guardian angel.
The film is based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks and one can spot the building blocks for the plot. Will Fetters’ screenplay, however, slaps clichéd moment upon clichéd moment and The Big Reveal takes a long time coming. When it emerges it’s all too late.
Heroes and villains in The Lucky One are painted in black and white. Yet no-one except Beth’s estranged hubbie wonders who Little Mister Perfect might be, or what his intentions are. As for Efron, he wanders around in his boots, T-shirt and jeans, forever walking a huge dog – Beth runs a kennel – and trying hard to look moody.
It’s a big ask to expect audiences to swallow Beth’s acceptance of this strange, isolated yet old-fashioned courteous gentleman. The inexorable path to their inevitable tryst, the jealous husband’s response, the mother-in-law’s encouragement and the growing relationship between Logan and Beth’s son are all part of the obvious and well-telegraphed plot.
The Lucky One is a poor excuse for what should be a serious study of grief, love and mystery. Sadly director Scott Hicks fails to recapture the genius of his 1996 hit Shine but then the be-stubbled Efron is no Geoffrey Rush. The script is littered with inanities and too many of them come out of Efron’s mouth.