The Longest Ride

So I watched The longest Ride…

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2015 wasn’t exactly a standout year for romance in film. I can only think of one another mainstream romance movie that I saw and that was The Age of Adaline. This movie didn’t really catch my eye and while I did enjoy watching it, I don’t regret my decision of choosing to not pay to see it.

Okay, basic plot: After been dragged to a bullriding show by her sorority sisters, Sophia Danko (Britt Robertson) has an encounter with one of the bullriders – Luke Collins (Scott Eastwood). Luke asks Sophia out and on the way back home from their first date, they come across a car crash in a forest. Luke pulls the driver out of the car, while Sophia rescues a box at the driver’s behest. It turns out the box was filled with love letters that the old man – Ira (Alan Alda) – had written to his wife, Ruth. Sophia regularly visits Ira and the two develop a friendship as she reads the letters to Ira. The letters chronicle the love story between Ruth and Ira which shares a striking resemblance to the love story currently on-going between Sophia and Luke. Luke and Sophia are from two different worlds – just as Ira and Ruth were – and these differences threaten to tear them apart. The young couple must learn a lesson from Ira’s story on how to compromise if there budding romance is to last.

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2-for-1 Specials are usually great things (especially if cocktails are involved) but they often don’t turn to work out so well in movies. There are two love stories being told in this film – the primary between Luke and Sophia and the secondary between Ira and Ruth. Now I assume that you were supposed to care more about the primary love story because the characters in that one are on the poster and the trailer was mainly about them. However, the secondary love story is handled with more care, better-acted and is the one that ends up winning your heart. This proved to be a problem because it felt like the core of the movie was in the wrong place. The purpose of the secondary love story is to act as a template from which the younger couple can learn and grown off of; but I think it would have been better if Luke and Sophia had just gone through the trials and tribulations themselves and reached a resolution organically. I never felt like I got a true sense of their love story because Ira and Ruth’s story steals so much focus.

That being said, Scott Eastwood and Britta Robertson have great chemistry and do the best they can with the limited attention they’re given. It isn’t stellar acting but it is good romcom acting and I liked it.  The real stars of this movie though are Jack Huston and Oona Chaplin who star as the young Ira and Ruth, respectively. Their performances were standout and they brought a lot of the charm and heart that this movie had. I think a portion of this has to be because their love story was set in the 1940’s and I’ve always found love stories set in the past to be much grander and ceremonious than love stories set in present day. This movie actually reminded me a lot of Woman In Gold. Both films have dual storylines with one set in present day and the other in the past. Difference is that Woman In Gold is just a better film and in the hands of superior filmmakers so it handles it dual identity with more class and higher sense of refinement.

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The Longest Ride is quite a sweet film and describes the sacrifice that being in love entails. I liked how this movie painted happy endings as points of compromise instead of overly-joyful situations where everybody gets their way. There is a touching love story at the heart of this film, the only problem is that it isn’t the one the poster promises you. Halfway into this movie I reached a point where I couldn’t care less about Luke and Sophia and just wanted to see more of Ruth and Ira. Once again, this isn’t a reflection of Eastwood and Robertson’s acting but rather the style of the movie and its lack of balance.

Overall, The Longest Ride is sweet and nothing more. Its lack of balance hurts it and relegates the main plot to subplot, and the movie never really feels whole. I liked Ruth and Ira’s story and would have actually just preferred to watch a movie about them. There are better Nicholas Sparks-inspired movies out there, The Notebook is one (which this movie blatantly rips off at times), so I’d suggest watching those and giving this one a miss. 6/10

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