Movie Review: The Longest Ride
Riding bulls and World War II Veterans sound like an odd mix of plot concepts for a romantic drama. Add to that this writer’s unfavourable predisposition towards Nicholas Sparks and his many book-to-film adaptations, and this movie review doesn’t seem to be going well. However, The Longest Ride turns out to be a truly enjoyable ride.
Adapted from the novel of same name, The Longest Ride is a tale of romance from 2 ages. Sophia (Britt Robertson) is a college student about to start a dream internship in New York’s art world whilst Luke (Scott Eastwood) is a champion bull rider climbing his way back to the top after a serious injury. In a series of coincidences, the 2 meet at a rodeo and go down the bumpy road of a relationship.
Concurrently, you’ll meet Ira (Alan Alda), a World War II Veteran who was saved from a car crash by Sophia and Luke. Whilst he’s recovering, Sophia rummages through the wicker box he had instructed her to retrieve from his burning car and finds a collection of letters from Ira to a Ruth. Upon reading the letters once more, Ira regales Sophia with tales about his beloved wife, Ruth, who had him smitten the instance they met. Ira’s tale resonates with Sophia and she’s inspired by his decades-long love to solve the problems in hers.
Romantic dramas are not usually our thing but we’ve seen our fair share of them. The Longest Ride is a much-appreciated film in this tired genre with its believable and genuine characters. Most importantly, the romance didn’t get old or stale; it vibrantly switches between the bubbly and energetic courtship of a young Ira and Ruth, to the budding relationship between Sophia and Luke (though we did enjoy Ira and Ruth’s far more).
Aesthetics wise, there isn’t much in terms of a creative flair. North Carolina’s natural beauty, with its greenery and serenity, is aptly used as the location of the affections. Visually appealing but not awe-inspiring, the aesthetics get their job done to present the tale.
However, the movie’s cinematography deserves a well-earned mention. All the scenes are composed just right and help emphasise the characters’ personalities and dialogues. In particular, the final bull-riding scene is both exhilarating and emotional as parts of it were shot in first person.
Eastwood (Clint Eastwood’s son) should be commended for being a stellar actor and not just another handsome Hollywood hunk. His portrayal of the stoic and down-to-earth Luke is immaculate, from his reactions down to his mannerisms. Jack Huston is not to be passed over either as his portrayal of the young Ira as the reserved but thoughtful and passionate man is as top-notch as Eastwood.
As for the female cast, Oona Chaplin as Ruth far outshines Robertson. Chaplin’s acting brought the bubbly and energetic Ruth to life, capturing her pains and emotions well. Robertson as Sophia came off as ditzy initially but as the movie progresses, she really brings out Sophia’s independence.
Predictably, the conclusion for both tales is cheesy and the plot twist can easily be guessed. But this sentimental tale of 2 North Carolina boys falling in love with a foreign artistic beauty captures the essence of each character poignantly.
One small gripe: we wanted to see more of Luke’s backstory with his father and of Luke’s close bull-riding friend, David (Hunter Burke). Though not an amazing movie, it’s a solid heart-warming film about love and its sacrifices that unexpectedly captured our heart. Watch out though – there’s a really noticeable cut in the movie where the sex scene was excised to drop it to PG-13.
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Release Date: 9 April 2015
Runtime: 128 minutes
Censorship Rating: PG13 – Intimate Scenes
Genre: Romance/ Drama
Director: George Tillman Jr.
Main Actors: Scott Eastwood. Britt Robertson, Alan Alda, Oona Chaplin, Jack Huston
Photos courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox and aceshowbiz