Joining The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, Dear John and countless other Nicholas Sparks novels to hit the screen, The Longest Ride is a romance designed to make its audience cry.
Those new to Sparks’ movie adaptations are unlikely to be impressed by the latest addition and those who know what to expect will leave theatres with a sigh, even if they do have tears in their eyes.
The film sees the story of contemporary star-crossed lovers Luke (Scott Eastwood), a professional rodeo rider, and Sophia (Britt Robertson), a sorority girl about to head to New York, weaved together with that of older-generation Jewish couple Ira and Ruth.
When Sophia and Luke pull the elderly Ira (Alan Alda) from his burning car on their first date, the story of Ira and Ruth begins, with Sophia reading the letters that are a poor imitation of the epistolary in The Notebook.
Sophia and Luke’s “getting to know you” phase is so awkward it’s cringe-worthy and the dialogue continues to be stilted throughout the film.
The characters lack depth or nuance, especially Sophia. She is explained in dialogue as the “fish out of water” daughter of Polish immigrants, but comes across as a typical American 20-something; the scenes from her sorority house feel like excerpts from Legally Blonde. And the sex scenes between Sophia and Luke are laughable, with cross cutting to a terribly obvious metaphor of bull riding in one and filming through a multi-coloured window pane in another.
Cultural references and subtleties are also lost in the story of Ira and Ruth, though not to the same extent. The older couple’s relationship is far more compelling and ultimately it is what drives the film. There are very real conflicts, and the chemistry between the actors is strong. Alda is also lovable as a dying Ira mourning the loss of his true love.
While the lessons from the past seem a little forced on the younger couple, the resolution brings it all together into an average romance flick – however predictable and coincidentally perfect the ending may be.
Your support will help us continue the important work of InReview in publishing free professional journalism that celebrates, interrogates and amplifies arts and culture in South Australia.Donate Here