The Longest Ride

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Posted April 10, 2015 by in

Rating

Total Score
 
 
 
 
 

3/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: romance
 
Director: George Tillman Jr.
 
MPAA Rating: PG-13
 
Actors: Scott Eastwood, Britt Robertson, Alan Alda
 
Length: 139 minutes
 
Release Date: 4/10/2015
 
Studio: Fox 2000 Pictures, Temple Hill Entertainment
 
 
What We Thought

Despite its faults, The Longest Ride is easily one of his better recent adaptations, owing to its tenderness, sensuality, and sense of humor.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
Love requires sacrifice.  When you love someone, you might have to give something up.  Maybe it’s a job you’d rather have, or a place you’d where you’d rather live.  But at the same time, it also requires acceptance.  Not everyone is cut-out to be an army wife, or cop’s wife.  They’re dangerous jobs, but some can’t see themselves doing anything else, and this is something that their spouses must accept.  They are who they are; take it or leave it.
     These conflicting ideas are at the heart of The Longest Ride, a romance adapted from the latest Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name.  The story follows the unlikely romance between Sophia and Luke (Britt Robertson and Scott Eastwood), an art student and professional bull rider, respectively.
     After meeting at one of his bull riding shows, Luke asks Sophia out on a date.  They hit it off, but with Sophia leaving for NYC for an internship in a few months, the most they could hope for would be a long-distance relationship.  During the ride back home one rainy night, Luke spots a car that’s run off a bridge.  Luke pulls the man out the burning wreckage, who repeats, “box…box…” which Sophia retrieves from the back seat.
     They take the man to the hospital, where Sophia and Luke say goodbye, at least for now.  Sophia stays the night at the ER, waiting for the man, an elderly fellow named Ira Levinson (Alan Alda) to wake up.  Given that it’s up to the doctors at this point and that there’s nothing she can do, I myself have would say, “I’ve done enough”, and head home.  Wouldn’t you?
     From the following morning on, Sophia visits Ira often, bringing him out of a depression by reading to him from his box of love letters to his wife, Ruth (played by Oona Chaplan and then Naomi Eckhaus).  Why does she do this?  She never explains her motivation, just like there was no reason for her to stay with him that night in the ER in the first place.  She’s does what she does because the story needs her to, when it should be the other way around; she should have a need, and then her actions set the events of the story into motion.
     The Longest Ride then flashes back to the romance between Ira and Ruth, up until a war injury changed everything for them.
     The love stories parallel one another.  In both stories, one partner wants something, needs something, and the other cannot or will not change.  The Longest Ride comes down to acceptance vs. sacrifice, and tries to find a compromise between the two.  However, it does so in a way that allows Luke to have his cake and eat it too; he doesn’t have to give up anything in a meaningful way, which the film professes to be about.
     The final act of the film is overly-busy.  There is no way, for myself a least, to stay on the emotional roller coaster that the story tries to take you on.  There is too much death, more than it needs, which goes against an otherwise light-hearted tone.  (Spoiler) The Fault in Our Stars was a tearjerker, but it demonstrated that a single death can be profoundly effective.  I often find Sparks to be excessively morbid and sentimental, and that’s true here, too.
     Sparks recycles a plot device from The Best of Me that worked better there, in which an elderly benefactor plays matchmaker, but part of the success of his films is that they come with the comfort of familiarity; you know what you’re going to get.
     Despite its faults, I kind of liked this one overall.  It’s easily one of his better recent adaptations, owing to its tenderness, sensuality, and sense of humor.  The bull riding scenes are tense, played-up with slow-motion and a sound design that isolates and emphasizes the angry beast’s stomping and grunting.   Robertson and Eastwood have a warm chemistry between them, which is crucial for a film like this.  It’s a handsome production, and the cast is just as attractive.  Look at it this way.  If someone like me likes this, even a little, imagine how a fan would react.  They’d enjoy every moment, I assure you—they were sitting behind me, weeping at the film’s tragic moments, and sighing whenever Eastwood walked into frame.  The film was crafted for them, and pleases the people it’s supposed to, and then some.

 


About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.

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