One thing I think is true of criticism is that you have to approach any given genre fairly. You’re not the person to review horror movies if you hate horror movies because you’re not going to appreciate how the genre trappings are deployed if you actively hate them. I’m not talking about having genre preferences — that’s fine, we’ve all got ‘em. But you should probably not engage, professionally at least, with a genre you have derision for or see no value in. It’s a rule of thumb, of course — head too far down that path, and you get to the fan/hater dichotomy and studio tribalism and all sorts of nonsense. But it’s worth keeping in mind.

Today’s genre is romance, specifically romantic drama, and even more specifically literary romantic drama, as typified by author Nicholas Sparks and his several big screen adaptations. That’s a type of film that takes a fair amount of stick from (mostly male, mostly straight) critics, of which I am one (mostly). But here’s the thing: I have a soft spot for a weepie. I cry in The Notebook (2004) — and I find it a bit weird if you don’t, tbh. Strip me down to my base elements and you’ll find that what appeals to me most about cinema is emotion — put the hook in me and play fair, and I’ll follow pretty much any path to catharsis you care to chart. That’s also why I don’t have much time for movies that cheat or fudge or are disingenuous and I tend to go harder on them — if I’m not feeling it, I don’t care to be watching it, and that goes double when the film expects a big emotional response but hasn’t put in the hard yards to earn it (see my reviews of the year’s weakest colons, Top Gun: Maverick and Thor: Love and Thunder, for examples).

Read more at Mr. Movies Film Blog.

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