When U.S. Marine Logan Thibault (Zac Efron) finds a strange woman’s picture, while on duty in Iraq, he realizes that by holding on to the pic he seems to survive when others around him don’t. “These things don’t just happen” says an unnamed extra before being blown up to pieces and finally convincing Logan that this picture might have magical properties. Touched by the woman’s beauty, Logan decides to find her and thank her in person. He travels all the way to Louisiana where he finds her.
She’s called Beth (Taylor Schilling) and before you can say “I know where this is going”, Logan has fallen in love with her but has to keep his finding her picture a secret. Rarely has a macguffin been as preposterous as this one, but it seems to do its job and distract us from what should be “real problems” for these characters, like the fact that Logan walks across states but only breaks a sweat when he’s trying to turn Beth on.
As with most movies adapted from Nicholas Sparks’ novels, this one relies completely on cliché to make us think that pretty people falling in love will never stop fascinating audiences. With every scene showered in unnatural golden light, the movie tries to turn Beth’s slow motion jogs into the modern equivalent of a Shakespearean sonnet, but the problem is that deep inside the movie ends up becoming a paradox about the way in which female desires are subverted in the name of overpowering chauvinism.
Not for one second are we supposed to doubt that Beth must fall in love with Logan, however to add some dramatic tension we also meet her possessive ex-husband (Jay R. Ferguson) a relentless beast meant to symbolize everything Zac Efron isn’t. Where one has brutish, almost animalistic features – it doesn’t help that most of his dialogues sound like grunts – the other one is a blue-eyed god with perfect biceps who lights up everyone’s lives (it should be telling that the young actor has more chemistry with the legendary Blythe Danner who plays Beth’s sassy grandmother, than with the leading actress).
We are always meant to understand that Logan is the only choice this young woman can make; completely disregarding the fact that the film is supposed to deal with how we all carve our fates. Why can’t the heroine realize that before needing a man, she might just need therapy? Of course, in a movie that completely obviates the fact that in the age of Facebook, almost anyone can have access to everyone’s pictures and use them as “lucky” tokens, we are required to suspend our disbelief so as not to confuse “romance” with good old fashioned creepiness.
Because not all stalkers will be as pretty as Zac Efron, “The Lucky One” reminds us that indeed “these things don’t just happen”, unless they’re occurring in the delusional world of movies.