What you need to know about Nicholas Sparks' latest novel turned Hollywood blockbust... er... uh... hopeful...
There are some acting gems in this film. Disclosure: I became a lifelong Alan Alda fan upon meeting Hawkeye Pierce. Personal feelings aside…the man is a national treasure in acting. The man can elevate an actor or scene that might not otherwise hit the mark. In The Longest Ride, much of his time is spent doing just this.
Alda's Ira Levinson (yes, there are two) is rescued from a car wreck by soon to be star crossed lovers Sophia (Britt Robertson) and Luke (Scott Eastwood). Sophia, a college art student, and Luke, a bull-riding champ, lock eyes after one of his rides. They meet again at the crash site where they rescue Ira, and the letters that tell his love story.
As is standard Sparks, the love story is epic. Wait…love stories…one epic, one steamy. Ruth and Ira's WW2 era story unfolds with lovely storytelling, and beautiful cinematography. The younger Ruth and Ira are played by film royalty descendents Oona Chaplin (granddaughter of Charles), and Jack Huston (grandson of John, nephew of Angelica and Danny). Family legacies aside, as Ruth and Ira, they are charming, moving, and inspiring. They capture the essence and lunacy of their characters. Oona, Jack and Alan, together made me cry…a lot. The intense, undying, above all else love (as Sparks' is so apt at capturing) that leaves the audience yearning for nothing less will move you with all its hurdles which include nothing less than combat war, infertility, and shattered dreams en route to happily devoted ever after. [gasp]
We're drawn in to this tale as Sophia begins reading Ira's love letters. At first, he doth protest, but touched by the reflection and recollection, Ira takes young Sophia under his proverbial (and bandaged) wing. The parallels of their lives and loves are clear for the romantic storytelling though a bit farfetched and forcibly contrived if you're looking for more than a well produced and enjoyable time. (But, I digress.)
As the tales further unravel and intertwine, the threads that connect them are passion, art, devotion, and internal conflict. Sure, that's plenty. Just don't get into the details. They'll detract from all the riding. As a former bull-riding champ hell bent on a comeback, Luke spends a great deal of time on the PBR (Professional Bull Rider) circuit…(spoiler alert) riding bulls. While he's only got to stay on for eight seconds, each ride is painstakingly edited to endure! Sophia gets a shot, too. She mounts the mechanical bull taking riding tips from Luke in a seductive scene plagued with rain.
Then, there are the love scenes between Sophia (spunky, sprite AND seducing turn for Robertson), and Luke (Eastwood…son of Clint though nee Reeves et more "film royalty") of which there are many. The scenes are hot. Let's face it…these two young actors are hot. Sure, it's "Lifetime Movie" kind of hot, but if your mom's sitting next to you (as mine was), and she's thinking, "he's hot!" (as mine was) In spite of repeatedly reminding your mother that he could be your son; therefore, her grandson (as I was), well…then, you might blush, too!
Regardless of all the "royalty," an Oscar contender, it is not. It is, however, lovely and effortless viewing with moving (and, Or…er…gasmic) moments. A great mother daughter movie night flick (assuming your daughter is of an appropriate age). C+