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A Walk to Remember Movie Poster
A Walk to Remember (2002)
Mandy Moore as Jamie Sullivan
Shane West as Landon Carter
Daryl Hannah as Cynthia Carter
Peter Coyote as Rev. Sullivan
Lauren German as Belinda
Clayne Crawford as Dean
Based on the novel by
Drama, Family, Romance
Rated PG For Thematic Elements Language and Some Sensual Material
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| Roger Ebert
January 25, 2002 |
"A Walk to Remember" is a love story so sweet, sincere and positive that it sneaks past the defenses built up in this age of irony. It tells the story of a romance between two 18-year-olds that is summarized when the boy tells the girl's doubtful father: "Jamie has faith in me. She makes me want to be different. Better." After all of the vulgar crudities of the typical modern teenage movie, here is one that looks closely, pays attention, sees that not all teenagers are as cretinous as Hollywood portrays them.
The singer Mandy Moore, a natural beauty in both face and manner, stars as Jamie Sullivan, an outsider at school who is laughed at because she stands apart, has values, and always wears the same ratty blue sweater. Her father (Peter Coyote) is a local minister. Shane West plays Landon Carter, a senior boy who hangs with the popular crowd but is shaken when a stupid dare goes wrong and one of his friends is paralyzed in a diving accident. He dates a popular girl and joins in the laughter against Jamie. Then, as punishment for the prank, he is ordered by the principal to join the drama club: "You need to meet some new people." Jamie's in the club. He begins to notice her in a new way. He asks her to help him rehearse for a role in a play. She treats him with level honesty. She isn't one of those losers who skulks around feeling put upon; her self-esteem stands apart from the opinion of her peers. She's a smart, nice girl, a reminder that one of the pleasures of the movies is to meet good people.
The plot has revelations that I will not reveal. Enough to focus on the way Jamie's serene example makes Landon into a nicer person--encourages him to become more sincere and serious, to win her where she approaches him while he's with his old friends and says, "See you tonight," and he says, "In your dreams." When he turns up at her house, she is hurt and angry, and his excuses sound lame even to him.
The movie walks a fine line with the Peter Coyote character, whose church Landon attends. Movies have a way of stereotyping reactionary Bible-thumpers who are hostile to teen romance. There is a little of that here; Jamie is forbidden to date, for example, although there's more behind his decision than knee-jerk strictness. But when Landon goes to the Rev. Sullivan and asks him to have faith in him, the minister listens with an open mind.
Yes, the movie is corny at times. But corniness is all right at times. I forgave the movie its broad emotion because it earned it. It lays things on a little thick at the end, but by then it had paid its way. Director Adam Shankman and his writer, Karen Janszen, working from the novel by Nicholas Sparks, have an unforced trust in the material that redeems, even justifies the broad strokes. They go wrong only three times: (1) The subplot involving the paralyzed boy should have either been dealt with, or dropped; (2) It's tiresome to make the black teenager use "brother" in every sentence, as if he is not their peer but was ported in from another world; (3) As Kuleshov proved more than 80 years ago in a famous experiment, when an audience sees an impassive closeup, it supplies the necessary emotion from the context. It can be fatal for an actor to try to "act" in a closeup, and Landon's little smile at the end is a distraction at a crucial moment.
Those are small flaws in a touching movie. The performances by Moore and West are so quietly convincing we're reminded that many teenagers in movies seem to think like 30-year-old standup comics. That Jamie and Landon base their romance on values and respect will blindside some viewers of the film, especially since the first five or 10 minutes seem to be headed down a familiar teenage movie trail. "A Walk to Remember" is a small treasure.
The story of the love of Virgil and Cely?
Virgil was only seventeen years old - still young but his mother thought he was old enough, so she courted a girl for him.
Strange? Perhaps in the city, but in the provinces it is a common thing. Mothers usually choose the heart's choice of their children. That is why so many unfortunate young find themselves tied to mates they hardly know, at least at the beginning.
But Virgil was in luck. His mother fell in love with a girl who was also the silent choice of his own heart. He had met her a month before and she had smiled at him. He had smiled at her too, but had lacked the courage to speak to her.
His mother took Virgil to the girl's house one afternoon and introduced him to her. After that she and the girl's mother left them together and went off to talk about some business of their own.
Virgil was still very young. Though good-looking and a bit mischievous with the girls at times, he had never made love to any of them. So now, he sat before the girl, staring out of the window and desperately trying to think of something to say.
"A beautiful sunset, is it not?" he finally said stiffly.
The girl looked at him, smiled and nodded, saying "Yes" at the same time.
He smiled, although there was really nothing to smile at in what either the girl or he had said. Nevertheless, he smiled again.
The girl did not move and kept on looking at him. Evidently she expected something more from him. But he had nothing else to tell her.
And so they sat, hardly moving, their mouths shut. Occasionally their glances would meet and then both would look away.
"Excuse me," Virgil burst out suddenly. The girl stared at him a little surprised.
"Why?" she asked.
"I… may I know your name? I didn't hear clearly what my mother said."
"My name is Cely," she answered. "Cely Toreno."
"Cely? That is a nice name!" he said in an attempt at flattery.
"Whose? Mine? It is Virgil. Virgil Carillo."
"Virgil! Are you an American?"
"American?" he echoed. "How could that be?"
The girl laughed and he was surprised. Why did she laugh? He thought. Was there something funny in what he had said? Maybe! He laughed, too.
And so for a whole minute they stared at each other smilingly. The girl's shyness was disappearing, but Virgil had not yet conquered his timidity when the two mothers returned. Virgil looked at his mother and saw that she was happy about something. An then Virgil and his mother bade Cely and her mother goodbye, Virgil's mother stating that they would call again and Cely's mother nodding in agreement.
Virgil and his mother visited Cely and her mother in the afternoon of the next day and again Virgil and Cely were left alone while the mothers went into another room. The two young people were now less restrained. Virgil told Cely about his childhood and Cely told Virgil about hers, and their afternoon together ended with tales about each other's childhood days, while in the other room the two women had been making arrangements looking to the future.
Every afternoon for two weeks Virgil and his mother called at the girl's home and then beginning the third week, Virgil went alone. At the end of the month, Virgil learned from his mother that he and Cely would be married.
"Why, mother!" he said, "I have not asked her yet!"
"But I have," she said.
Cely, too, learned from her mother that she and Virgil would soon be joined in wedlock.
"But mother!" she cried. "He has not asked me yet!"
"But Virgil's mother asked me," said Cely's mother.
And so Virgil and Cely found themselves engaged, hardly knowing how it had happened. They had not yet told each other what was in their hearts, and yet they were engaged. Yesterday they were just friends, now they would soon be married.
In the afternoon Virgil and Cely took long walks in the fields. She would ask him for flowers, and he would pick them for her. They were no longer so bashful together and felt as if they had know each other for years.
Once Cely asked Virgil jokingly, "If I married somebody else, would you feel sad?"
"But that can never happen!" he answered. "We are engaged, aren't we?"
"But suppose!" said the girl.
"Of course, I would be unhappy, Cely," he replied. He came near her and said, "Cely once you were nothing to me. But now, thought we have only known each other for a month, I truly love you."
Virgil's words made Cely very happy. She, too, loved him.
The two mothers were also glad that their children showed each other affection. "They will make a good pair," they said.
But one day Virgil's mother came to him with a worried look on her face.
"Virgil," she said, "your wedding with Cely is off."
"Why, mother!" he exclaimed, astonished. "Cely and I have not quarrelled."
"No," said the mother, "but we…" She did not finish her sentence, but turned away.
Cely was also told by her mother that there would be no wedding.
"But mother!" she cried. "Virgil and I did not quarrel!"
"No," said her mother, "but we - Virgil's mother and I - did."
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