Nicolas Sparks fans rejoice, here comes another “critic proof” film adaption of one of his novels.
The Longest Ride is set in North Carolina, where Sophia (Britt Robertson), an ambitious art student hell bent on getting out of NC, meets handsome Luke (Scott Eastwood, yes he is the son of who you think), a modern-day cowboy striving to become the number one bull rider in the world. Despite what it may cost him.
Then a convoluted subplot involving Ira (played by the wonderful Alan Alda), an older man who is saved by Sophia and Luke after a car accident, begins. Sophia ends up befriending him by reading him all the letters he wrote to his wife during their entire relationship. Detailing everything – including the ups and downs. In flashbacks, Ira and Ruth are played by Jack Huston and Oona Chaplin (related to John Huston and Charlie Chaplin ). Their love and struggles paralleling the love of Sophia and Luke, which of course, serves Ira to dish out advice to Sophia. As with all Sparks stories, there is a “twist” in the end which ties up everything.
As elaborate as the subplots are, they are not hard to follow but it does make for an extremely “long ride” at a running time of over 2 hours. Subsequently this is one of the downfalls of the film. The story line could have easily been tweaked to condense the story. There are also contradictions that are not explained, such as how a loving and gentle young Ira turns into a grumpy old man that hates everyone, or why Luke should stop bull riding. Without giving away too much, we know he had a horrible accident and should stop riding bulls, but nothing further is explained as to why. These plot holes ultimately does not help a script that is already vulnerable.
The opening scene starts promising, we see Luke at a Rodeo preparing to ride a vicious bull, director George Tillman Jnr employs some interesting style of work here. To allow the viewer to feel the dangers of bull riding, which is an integral part of the story, director opted to use camera work that is found in action and horror films. I do suspect it was also used to attract more male viewers. Outside of the Rodeos, Tillman Jr seamlessly switches to the more traditionally “tame” camera work and charming cinematography reserved for romantic stories.
Jack Houston and Oona Chaplin put on the best performance out of everyone. Jack effortlessly plays the selfless, hopeless romantic who is eternally in love with his wife. Oona is spot on with her version of a fiery and passionate European woman. Scott and Britt have on screen chemistry, something which I have found lacks in some other Sparks movies (The Lucky One anyone?). While there are a few awkward moments between them on screen, I would be more inclined to blame the script than their acting skills.
The Longest Ride is a pleasant enough movie despite all of its shortcomings. Perfect for date nights or if you just want to unwind. However, it’s not a film that anyone will remember or feel very passionate about once it ends.
I do have to point out that some critics are using racisms to attack and rate this film, this is atrocious and unfair. This film may not be a cinematic triumph but the colour of the actors and director has nothing to do with their talent or how the script has turned out.
I rate it 5 out of 10 stars.
The Longest Ride is out in cinemas today.