Romance doesn’t seem to be in the air for this summer’s anticipated tearjerker, The Longest Ride, as George Tillman Jr’s adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ novel fell short at the box office, despite an exodus of flocking numbers. Looking back on it, the cast felt like a decent fit, the chemistry was there, and the atmosphere was right. So despite having all the soppy bits in all the right places, I guess at the end of the day, nobody was in the mood.
The west countryside story begins with an unlikely pair who unexpectedly fall head over heels (doesn’t it always?), as their fling goes from convenient to complicated in just two dates. As bull rider, Luke Collins (Scott Eastwood) and art historian wannabe, Sophia Danko (Britt Robertson), confront the idea of their relationship having a sell-by-date due to career ambitions, they stumble across a car wreckage with war veteran Ira Levinson (Alan Alda) inside. After a trip to A&E, and a nosy poke around his wicker basket full of old letters, the grumpy sod opens up about his own life full of love and loss during WWII. From there, the story intertwines the young couple’s relationship and the man’s life spent with his one and only, pitting the two similarly-minded couples against overwhelming odds.
No matter how much I want to round The Longest Ride up with all the other bored and tired romance stories, I don’t have it in me to tear it to pieces. Honest storytelling and the lack of pretence put this movie forward as one that has some semblance of empathy to it. Where the young couple forget the bigger picture, Levinson seems to bring them back from the brink with his tales of wisdom. Though its storytelling is old-hat, this sort stands the test of time and I can always give that credit, despite the movie’s level of bull.
What was difficult to take seriously was the younger couple’s dilemma. Compared to the war-torn couple, Sophia’s tale of woe hardly seemed worth mentioning. What’s more, the ending was anything but realistic and hardly justified what the younger two had learnt from the elder man. However, the redeemable ace in the hole came from the characterisation of all three leading roles.
On the other hand, I didn’t forget about the two hours’ worth of sentimental mush and eye-candy close-ups which The Longest Ride could’ve used less of. But I weighed it up against the movie’s storytelling style which was charming in parts, likeable and occasionally poignant, and somehow that same, old fuzzy-wuzzy feeling still managed to creep its way in. It just goes to show that the clichés are worn out, but if you have even one romantic bone in your body, you’ll fall for it every time; hook, line and sinker.