Love and southern comfort: Mandy Moore breaks through on the big screen in Sparks’ “A Walk to Remember”

Amy Dziobek Staff Writer

There is nothing like a good, old- fashioned love story. Boy falls in love with girl, girl falls in love with boy, and they live happily ever after. Romantic films force girls to cradle tissue boxes and convince guys torture really does exist. Best-selling author Nicholas Sparks has twisted the typical mold of the classic love story with his coming-of-age drama A Walk To Remember.
Although it focuses on the deep and somewhat sappy love of two teenagers, the film adaption directed by Adam Shankman (“The Wedding Planner”) brings Sparks’ words to life with the ability to speak to the hearts of both genders.
The story is set in a small town in North Carolina during the 1950s, but Shankman chooses to update the film version to a more contemporary period.
The southern town of Beaufort, South Carolina is picturesque with its sunsets, starry skies, and quaint coastal houses. It is the perfect life for Jamie Sullivan, played by pop singer Mandy Moore, the daughter of the town’s Baptist minister.
Moore’s character is confident and self-assured, not afraid to show her love for her faith or her lifestyle. She is a plain girl with thick bangs and a wardrobe of long floral dresses, who is far from cool and comfortable being who she is.
Shane West, known for his portrayal of Eli Sammler on the ABC drama “Once and Again,” plays Landon Carter, the troubled teen submersed in the popular crowd of Beaufort High School.
After a prank with his buddies goes wrong and sends a student to the hospital, Carter is forced to tutor young students on Saturday mornings and participate in the drama club’s spring play. These punishments bring Carter closer to Sullivan, a girl who he could never understand and believed was different.
When Carter finds himself caught up in the frustration of trying to remember his lines for the production, he asks Sullivan for help. Soon, against his initial intentions, Carter falls in love with Sullivan, who amazes him with her passion for life and her ability to believe in him when he has failed to believe in himself.
Moore, although known only for her pop-star status, plays a very believable Jamie Sullivan, and carries her performance consistently and with great emotion throughout the film.
West will definitely make the girls swoon with his eternal love for Moore’s character and his transformation from the bad-boy to the nice guy next door.
The film never loses momentum and has an excellent supporting cast, including Daryl Hannah as Carter’s mother, and Lauren German, from MTV’s “Undressed” series, as Belinda.
“A Walk” touches on the awkward years of high school cliques and the problems that arise when a member of the popular crowd crosses the line to the unaccepted side.
Most importantly, it tells the story of a young woman who is able to bring life back into a lost individual and share his love in return.