The last few Sparks flicks have been nothing short horrible, including last years The Best Of Me, which I picked as the worst movie of 2014 for every reason there is. This movie I am happy to report is far better in about every regard.
The Longest Ride is the story of Sophia (Britt Robertson) and Luke (Scott Eastwood). Sophia is a college senior in North Carolina but is originally from the East Coast. She is an art major, and is planning a new career of working in the art world. Luke is a North Carolina native who is one of the best professional bull riders in the world. They meet, and of course strike up a steamy romance trying to meld their very different worlds.
They befriend a very nice old man they saved from a terrible car accident Ira (Alan Alda). Sophia becomes a very good friend of Ira's as he cannot read anymore. Sophia and Ira bond over many days of her reading his old love letters to him he wrote over the decades to his deceased wife, Ruth (Oona Chaplin).
As Luke and Sophia march on, the differences of their worlds become very difficult. Is this bad timing? Or is this fate, and will they end up together as it would seem they are supposed to? And what role will Ira play in their fate at the end of his life? These are the questions asked in The Longest Ride.
This movie does a number of things well. There has been some talk of it being very different in some aspects from the book. But on screen they do capture well, the characters and how they live and act in today's world. Sophia is of course a Sparks character, and she's a bit too good to be true, but she does represent in her actions that of a nice contempory college senior. Luke, is a typical "old school" traditional values guy, and for the most part he is believable. This does stick to the typical Sparks formula of movie making, but not as much as in the actual story on screen.
It is amazing that all of these Sparks movies can look the same after a while, but they do. This movie does dare to be a bit different. For once, we are not on the Carolina Coast, and there are any boat, boat house, or seaside scenes. Also, bull riding is a part of this movie and that is way outside of the realm of Sparks. And even though this does deal with flashback stories running side by side much like The Notebook, it doesn't really feel the same. Alda is very good in this limited role, and he gives this a nice boost.
It is stunning how much Scott Eastwood looks, sounds and acts like Clint in parts of this movie. He is well cast, and does a nice job here. Robertson is a nice fresh presence on screen, and is actually quite likable. There really nice no supporting cast to mention, as these three are the primary people on screen. This is well done for the most part, it paces along fine, and even though Sparks movies all seem to be the same, this one is OK.
The Longest Ride. Good, schmaltzy movie for romantics.