Remember that feeling you had when you watched The Notebook for the first (or thirtieth) time? You know, that feeling that made you just want to yell out, "If you're a bird, I'm a bird!" and throw your arms around some Ryan Gosling lookalike ASAP? Maybe you even attempted to dance to slow jazz in the middle of a deserted road; we wouldn't judge you.
Since we all already know - a little too well - the thoughts that every girl has while watching The Notebook, we can say with certainty that we've found the next tearjerking, heartwarming, all-around romantic movie that will steal your breath away à la Allie and Noah: it's called The Best of Me, and it's based on yet another fab Nicholas Sparks novel!
We went behind the scenes on the set in Louisiana to bring you the inside scoop on our new favorite chick flick - check out all of the reasons why you're about to fall in love with fall's best new blockbuster, in theaters October 17th!
1. The love story is timeless
You never forget your first love, and things aren't any different for Dawson (played by James Marsden and Luke Bracey) and Amanda (played by Michelle Monaghan and Liana Liberato), high school sweethearts who find themselves reunited after 20 years apart (Seriously, imagine the sparks flying!). The epic love story shifts from the teenage romance to the modern-day reunion, capturing all of the happiness and heartarche of first true love (and the wrenching choices we face when confronted with those elusive second chances).
"The beauty of their relationship," explains Young Dawson actor Luke Bracey, "I think, is that it takes Amanda convincing [Dawson] that he's worth being loved and loving. You find there [are] some beautiful moments where you do see he gets to laugh and really be free, and you get the sense, I think, it's for the first time in his life, and then that's one of the really special things about their relationship. She gives him his freedom to be himself, to know that it's all right to laugh, and make mistakes, and love, and I think it's a really special relationship."
2. The man candyis gorgeous
We could pretty much have made reason #1 "James Marsden" and called it quits on this list, because what collegiette needs more convincing after hearing those two little words? We think Michelle Monaghan put it best when we met on the set: "James and I have had some really fun great scenes," she told Her Campus. "Look at him," she went on, gesturing at Marsden. "He's standing under the ice cream truck right now. He's so cute! I mean, look at him. Don't you just want to scoop him back [here]?" Um, yes, but we didn't realize that was an option?!
Still, believe it or not, our favorite rom-com actor isn't even the only man candy making this movie worth a watch. Allow us to introduce you to Luke Bracey, the Aussie actor you're going to spend the entirety of the film (and probably your fall semester) swooning over. Known for his previous roles in The November Man and Monte Carlo (we know you remember that beautiful Australian backpacker!), Bracey might just steal the show as Marsden's too-attractive-for-words 18-year-old self.
Twice the man candy, double the viewing pleasure. Seriously, between The Notebook star James Marsden and up-and-coming cutie Luke Bracey, we feel totally torn in our affections. Can't we just love them both equally?! Oh right, they're playing the same guy. So yes, yes we can.
3. The leading ladies are lovely
As busy as we were swooning over those two Hollywood hotties, we made more than enough time to be in awe of leading ladies Michelle Monaghan (of True Detective, Gone Baby Gone and Made of Honor fame) and Liana Liberato (of If I Stay and Stuck in Love). Simply put, Monaghan is one of the loveliest people we've ever met in person, so we have a feeling that her Amanda will definitely give Rachel McAdams' Allie a run for her money.
Plus, newcomer Liberato, who was only 18 when the film was shot, is totally one of us! Collegiettes, she could easily be your BFF roomie, if she wasn't so busy dominating the silver screen. Totally bubbly, totally friendly and 100 percent talented, Liberato is one of the best reasons to fall in love with The Best of Me; come on, it's like watching yourself up on the big screen!
4. The chemistry is undeniable
We know what you're thinking: no chemistry could ever compare to Allie and Noah's in The Notebook, but we beg to differ! Want proof?
"Michelle [Monaghan] and I had about an 11-minute love scene take," explains Marsden (Cut to us swooning yet again). "[Monaghan] is such a joy to work with," Marsden continues. "I'm from the Midwest, and she is too, and it's just good to work with somebody that you actually really do have intimate chemistry with. And she's a sweetheart." When Marsden whisked Monaghan away on set... sigh, they're just too cute.
The chemistry doesn't just stop with Marsden and Monaghan; Bracey and Liberato have their fair share of fireworks on screen, too. "[Dawson and Amanda] bring out parts of each other that I don't think they would have seen if they weren't together," says Liberato. "I think it's because he's so mysterious, and that just draws her in. And he's also handsome! But I think there's something about him that really just intrigues her, and she doesn't know anything about him, so she wants to know more."
Oh, and you know that infamous scene with Noah and Allie kissing in the rain? Get ready for a scene to rival The Notebook's in The Best of Me! As Liberato pointed out, "It just kind of solidifies the fact that you're doing a Nicholas Sparks movie when you're kissing a guy - a really attractive guy - in the rain." Dying to see it!
5. The sets are incredible
Nicholas Sparks books-turned-movies are known for capturing all of the glamour and timelessness of the south, and The Best of Me is no different. When Her Campus went behind the scenes, we were whisked away to a gorgeous plantation an hour outside of New Orleans: the character Amanda's family home, the Collier house. Think large porches, sweeping lawns, shady Spanish moss, a romantic old swing and a stray alligator or two (seriously, one showed up on set!).
Not all of the movie is set in such scenic locales - there's a whole range from the good to the bad to the ugly, since the characters have such ups and downs in life - but trust us, you'll be won over instantly by that sweet southern charm!
6. The soundtrack is AMAZING
No romantic flick is complete without a killer soundtrack, and The Best of Me totally takes the cake. Lady Antebellum wrote "I Did With You" specifically for the movie, and other crooners like Hunter Hayes, Kacey Musgraves, Colbie Caillat and more will play while the action unfolds! If you're a firm believer that country music is the best music, you'll go nuts in the movie theater!
7. Oh, and did we mention Nicholas Sparks wrote the book?
Okay, so we've mentioned it maybe 10 times already, but that doesn't change the fact that Nicholas Sparks must be a GENIUS. Seriously, how does he know the way to all of our hearts?! Between The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, Safe Haven, Dear John and all the rest, we're just not sure we can take any more love and heartbreak (just kidding, we totally can).
When we asked Sparks to share his thoughts on the Dawson and Amanda love story (and what collegiettes like us can learn from it), he imparted a little romance master wisdom: "Your parents often don't think it, but it doesn't matter when you first fall in love; it's real. [They think], oh, you're too young to understand. Absolutely not - it is as real as it is. That doesn't necessarily mean that that's the person with whom you should spend your life. But the emotions associated with love, they're real. And this is a great exploration of that because you're going to see young Dawson and Amanda and then 20-years-later Dawson and Amanda. They basically fall in love twice. It's different. There's more maturity in the second version versus this more young intensity. But, the feelings are the same, because [they] always [are]."
Don't miss out when The Best of Me hit theaters on October 17th, collegiettes! Big thanks to Relativity Media for flying us down for the whirlwind trip of a lifetime - next stop, the movie theater!
Best moment ever.