(PG-13 for some violence, sensuality): Now for a totally, noncommittal slushy romance, we have what could serve as an updated version of "The Way We Were," with only the catch line, "Love means never having to say you're sorry," reversed, with everyone saying he/she is sorry at the drop of one misgiving after another in this bathos inducing flick about love overcoming all obstacles.
It's screenwriter James Linden's more-or-less faithful adaptation of one of Nicolas Sparks's gushy soap opera novels, gussied up by Lasse Hallsrom's use of slick polish over depth (what else could he do with the material, one wonders, but like using dusting powder to conceal the need for a bath, it's not enough).
A chance encounter brings together a South Carolina beach resident (Amanda Seyfried) and a bullish Marine (Channing Tatum) on an R&R visit with his autistic dad. Tough stoic meets innocent sweetie; attraction turns to REAL love, REAL disappointments, REAL making-up, REAL tragedies, all culminating in what REAL LIFE is all about during wartime. It's real, folks - the odd-couple coupling, the gooey obstacles, the easily conquered problems with brief apologies - all done with what must be an unscripted dialog. Improv at its most heinously insipid. Who could ever dare put on scripted page - each line punctuated with loooooooong pauses & questioning eyes - "What've you been doing?" "Oh, I've been busy." "Oh. OK. All right." "Yeah." Add to this, real originality, like comments in the letters between them: "I miss you so much it hurts." "My life without you has no meaning." In nearly two hours covering an episodic time space of seven years, you're still unconvinced.
Of course, the line "I love you" is popularized throughout the drippy material - delivered time & again with all the sincerity of any penny novel character. That, and references to a full moon which connects them regardless of distances. Terry Stacey's camera close-ups, all eyes & expressive emotions, never falter in carrying through the REAL romance enacted by REAL people caught up in REAL vicissitudes of wartime life. Oh, brother! (Grade: D+)