Premise: Star-crossed lovers Luke Collins (Scott Eastwood) and Sophia Danko (Britt Robertson) unexpectedly meet Ira (Alan Alda), whose own memories of young love help the couple better face the trials of their relationship.
Story: The Longest Ride certainly follows through in true Spark’s fashion. But if you aren’t familiar with Spark’s other work you can still enjoy this new story. It was an easy film to escape into. Sophia and Luke first meet at a local bull riding competition where Luke is trying to make a comeback after suffering from a devastating accident that almost killed him while riding a monstrous bull named Rango. Incorporating two different love stories from two different time periods shows that the difficulties faced by Luke and Sophia are not all that different from what Ira and his wife Ruth (Oona Chaplin) had to work through to be together. It’s interesting how many relationships we know of between friends and family that suffer through struggles, and it’s always pleasing to hear how couples overcome these struggles. It inspires us to work harder on our own. In that respect, The Longest Ride utilizes the conventions of the romance genre to get this point across. For a formulaic love story, I actually enjoyed it more than I should have.
Acting: You can definitely feel the attraction between Luke and Sophia as well as Ira and Ruth. The way that the actors look at each other communicates exactly what audiences need to feel in order to accept the movie: like these people are truly in love with each other.
I enjoyed watching how the romance scenes played out. In true Nicolas Sparks fashion, you want to root for this couple. The men are perfect gentlemen. The women are fair ladies. The leads were able to carry the film and make you believe in them. This was the chemistry I felt was necessary to keep the film engaging.
Execution: Director George Tillman Jr. (Soul Food) provides us with lots of pretty beach scenery of North Carolina. The film looks very beautiful. The two story structure was well balanced, although I would have liked to learn more about Luke and Sophia’s back story. But when Ruth and Ira’s story is offered as a parallel, you can still get a sense of how Luke and Sophia managed to fall in love in the first place. At times, The Longest Ride felt like it was two romance in movies in one. This could have gone horribly wrong, but in this case, scenes don’t feel false even if they border on cliche, and the film concludes in a very sweet way.
Overall Impression: My husband and I have an on going joke as to why and who will be killed off in the next Nicolas Spark’s movie or book. It has become a famous romantic formula that Nicolas Sparks has successfully written over and over again.! And although I don’t often enjoy predictability in movies because I like to figure out the twists and turns myself . I sometimes just feel its nice to accept the ride.