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The Longest Ride – Movie Review

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The Longest Ride – Movie Review

Rating: B- (Okay)

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Nicholas Sparks has carved out a specific niche with the female audience, especially the romantics. With my first foray into one of the adaptations of his books, it’s easy to see the appeal. There’s nothing groundbreaking about The Longest Ride and some elements work a lot better than others. However, when it aims for the genuine heartfelt moments, it more than succeeds. With two interconnected storylines, one tends to outweigh the other in the character and emotion departments and that does create a disjointed experience. This is ultimately a period romance mixed in with a modern and more clichéd love story and it will more than appease the target demographic.

Of the two romances in The Longest Ride, the flashbacks of an older man’s relationship with his wife is the more interesting one. There is some decent chemistry between Ira and Ruth, with the script having an understanding of the time period. Their growth is well handled and developed and both characters become likeable personalities. It’s a fairly basic “boy meets girl” story, but it manages to delve into the struggles they face rather well. The sepia tone added to the cinematography only elevates the nostalgic remembrances as Ira recounts his life. However, this romance is so involving, it makes the scenes between main couple Sophia and Luke feel that much longer.

Sophia and Luke are rather paper-thin, though Britt Robertson and Scott Eastwood try their best with the material handed to them. The only time director George Tillman, Jr. and screenwriter Craig Bolotin go too over-the-top is with a shower love-making session that feels like it came from a completely different film. Thankfully, the rest of The Longest Ride never enters into that same cheesy territory. Luke’s constant insistence of getting back on the bull is notably frustrating as the movie never quite properly explores his obsession, outside of basic finances. There are a couple of points where one wonders why Sophia chooses to stay with him, even coming close to sacrificing her career aspirations in the process.

The middling second act is somewhat saved by what happens in the final third. While the film attempts to tug at the heart strings, it never becomes overly schmaltzy and forced. This is helped by what we learn about Ira and Ruth in the preceding couple of hours and the genuine connection between Sophia and the older Ira. There are even surprising turns in a story that has mostly stuck to familiar clichés through a lot of its running time. The road is bumpy along the way, but The Longest Ride ultimately ends on a satisfying note.

The Longest Ride is not great cinema and by all accounts, it’s rather forgettable romantic fluff sure to make its way to cable reruns in a couple of years. However, it’s relatively harmless and almost succeeds in its ultimate goal. It is kind of cute at moments and genuinely heartwarming at others and never becomes offensive with its white-bread depiction of young puppy love. The addition of Alan Alda does somewhat amp up the prestige factor, even if he’s worthy of stronger and more intellectually stimulating material. It’s the kind of April rainy day matinee that’s reasonably satisfying for a girl’s night out and their significant others won’t be gnawing their arms off in order to escape the screening.

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Review By: Stefan Ellison

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