A Walk to keep in mind (2002, PG), starring Mandy Moore and Shane West and based upon the book by Nicholas Sparks, is a maturing drama that follows a typical plot line in teen-centered films: Popular Character looks down on socially awkward Unpopular Character; Popular Character is put in situations where they get an opportunity to more carefully observe Unpopular Character beyond the regular social scene; Popular Character pertains to appreciate Unpopular Character’s concealed strengths and charm while Unpopular Character begins to come out of their shell and end up being more outwardly positive. Ultimately, Popular Character and Unpopular Character fall in love, to the discouragement of all their peers. That is the plot of A Walk to Remember in a nutshell.
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Set in rural North Carolina, Landon Carter is our conceited but popular protagonist. Handsome and one of the “in crowd” as his high school, Landon enters into some trouble and is forced to do some social work and extra-curricular activities around the school, which is where he winds up crossing paths with Jamie Sullivan, the button-up sweater using, unpopular Bible thumping pastor’s daughter who is the official dork of the school. Regardless of Landon’s dislike for Jamie, he is required into close business with her, working at the seniors house next to her, acting in the school play, etc. Ultimately, he comes to see that this plain looking woman has many surprise talents and has a true inner appeal. They obviously develop a romantic interest in each other that will subsequently be challenged by their peers and by events outside their control. The ending is rewarding but bittersweet.
A few things: A Walk to Remember, despite featuring a pastor’s daughter as one of the protagonists and being greatly focused on faith, is not always a Christian film ala Fireproof or Facing the Giants. Jamie carries around a Bible, yes, and God and faith are discussed sometimes – but there is no climactic scene where Landon is welcomed to accept Christ as his personal Lord and Savior and whatever starts to turn around. It is presumed by the end that Landon has actually become a believer, this shift is gradual and happens in the extremely human context of Landon’s efforts to learn the best ways to care for Jamie and be the man she needs him to be. In this sense, this non-Christian film produced by Warner Brothers manages to produce a more sensible portrayal of how conversions belong to human relationships. In Fireproof and Facing the Giants, the lead character needs to officially convert and accept Jesus then his circumstances alter; in A Walk to Remember, the character modifications in and through his situations, and the conversion of heart follows the situations, which challenge Landon and force him to get out of his convenience zone.
The performing was excellent, and the soundtrack (featuring Switchfoot and numerous songs performed by lead actress Mandy Moore) fits very well in with the film’s main themes. The worldly people in this movie are represented as worldly individuals actually are – Landon’s good friends, and the old Landon, cuss, act unchastely, and beverage to excess. The film opens with a typical shot of inebriated teenage festivity. Be warned: the film has a really favorable message, however it reveals worldly people exactly as they are, cussing, scanty clothing, indiscrimination and all.
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Yet while the worldliness of the worldlings is extremely reasonable, the character of Jamie Sullivan is not entirely credible. She is gets directly A’s in school. She volunteers at the seniors house. She has the lead role in the school play where she writes all the music herself. She invests her nights watching the stars through a homemade telescope (apparently she does not require much sleep). She tutors at-risk students after school and she sings in the Church choir on weekends. And she perfectly deflects all the taunts of her fellow trainees without missing a step.
Is she perhaps a bit too best? Maybe … however then again, there are other scenes where we see Jamie doing things that a Christian girl of her character would never ever do; she remains out all night with Landon once again and again, and in one scene exposes her shoulder to him so he can put a short-lived tattoo on it. Often she is too best, other times she puts herself in really near events of sin. Possibly this is bad screen writing, or maybe it is excellent screen writing – Jamie, after all, might be imitating a normal Christian, disposed towards choosing the vulnerable however excellent to fall when tempted too. Jamie never ever does fall, though, which is a redeeming factor. She comes across as simply a regular lady with regular teenage predicaments about the boundaries of proper habits when all is stated and done.
This movie did surprisingly bad at the box workplace and got normally poor reviews, although it does enjoy popularity in Christian circles. It’s story is quite appealing, the performing is well done, and its character advancement is more reasonable and better than some other popular Christian movies. The movie depicts some unchaste habits here and there, but stops brief of outright fornication. There is cussing, but it is not unjustified, and it is used to contrast the worldliness of some minor characters with the pureness of Jamie and the reformed Landon. The spiritual component is handled tactfully and integrated into the genuine relationship that establishes between Landon and Jamie.
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