By Julia Waldow, Print Arts & Style Editor
Zac Efron has certainly come a long way from his shaggy-haired, prom-filled, toe-tapping days of “High School Musical” on Disney Channel. In his new film “The Lucky One,” Efron demonstrates that he has no difficulty abandoning his teenage past and stepping into more mature and dramatic roles.
The movie begins the night after a night raid when a Marine named Logan (Efron) finds a glittering photo in the sand and walks over to examine it. The photo shows a young woman on the front and has the words “keep safe” on the back. While Logan is looking at the photo, a bomb goes off where he was previously standing. Logan believes that the photo saves him, and he heads on a journey to find the woman in the picture to thank her.
Logan’s trek leads him to a Louisiana pet motel that the woman in the photo, Beth (Taylor Schilling), operates with her grandmother and son. Logan buys time to thank and connect with Beth by taking a job at the motel. Although Beth initially hates Logan, the pair develops an intense bond when Logan comforts Beth about her deceased brother, a former Marine. Their friendship quickly gathers speed, and the two develop a powerful relationship.
While it is true that Logan and Beth’s relationship is somewhat steamy (as depicted in the duo’s massive PDA excerpt in the trailer), the pair has something much more to offer to both each other and to the audience than pure physical attraction. Logan defends Beth from her abusive ex-husband and Beth’s guidance and support motivates Logan to get over his minor post-traumatic stress breakouts. Throughout their time spent together, Logan and Beth peel away the layers of one another’s past.
The movie is not all sweet and romantic, however. Its later scenes touch on powerful topics such as trauma, abuse and sacrifice. Its nail-biting climax during a storm brings viewers to the edge of their seats.
Throughout each different scene, Efron and Schilling masterfully make the roles their own. Their commitment to studying and dissecting their characters to create successful onscreen chemistry is evident throughout the film. Since Efron and Schilling illustrate each step in their characters’ relationship with one another, the audience can clearly see the pair’s metamorphosis from friends to a couple.
Overall, the newest movie based off of Nicholas Sparks’s book has something for everyone. Its sweet, seductive, intense and dramatic scenes and box office success make this movie a “lucky one.”