Film review – The Longest Ride
If you, like me, have loved the other adaptations of Nicholas Sparks’ novels like A Walk to Remember, Dear John and The Notebook, then you will know the level of romance, beauty and sheer chick-flick indulgence to expect from The Longest Ride.
The story follows the lives of two seemingly different tales of love and loss and interweaves the two for a touching twist on the classic ‘boy meets girl’ rom-com. The first is college student Sophie and Luke the professional bull rider who fall in love against the odds and whose lives are intertwined with an elderly man who they meet under difficult circumstances during their first date. We also see his side of the story as we hear the love story between the elderly Ira and the love of his life. As you learn how their lives become interconnected you begin to realise how Sophie and Luke can learn about the meaning of true love from a couple whose loves story spanned decades.
If the romance side of things doesn’t bother you, it is interesting to learn more about the thriving rodeo culture complete with cowboy boots and hats, line dancing and bull riding which is relatively unknown on these shores but provides and adds a unique perspective. This naturally leads to a great country music based soundtrack and plenty of attractive male cowboys to drool over.
But if cowboys and love still isn’t your thing, there are also elements of art history with accounts of Ira’s experience of Word War II. It’s an unusual combination but means there’s a little something for everyone. This adds a darker and more sentimental edge to an otherwise fairly simple and formulaic romance film. Ira and his late wife Ruth collected art throughout their marriage and even though he is in his nineties and his health is deteriorating, the stories that the paintings tell and the memories that they bring help keep her memory alive which is an endearing and fascinating element of the film as you get a sense of their art collection and the meaning behind it.
I personally found it quite tediously cheesy at times and there is a lot of emphasis on the difficulties of dating a man who competes in bull riding contests, which isn’t exactly a relatable theme. The ending is also very tenuous and predictable but the overarching concept is sweet and original enough to make up for those downsides.
I would definitely recommend reading the book first as it is a simple, quick read to enjoy in your spare time (or while sunbathing) and will give you a deeper appreciation of the background to the characters and what motivates them. But don’t worry if you haven’t because the plot is very easy to pick up on and there is something special about the way Sparks narrates his love stories.
This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but if you’re looking for a girly cinema trip for your classic ‘sorority girl falling in love with a rodeo cowboy’ romance film then this should be your first choice – 3.5 stars.
Word of warning for any particularly squeamish people or animal rights activists – the bull riding scenes are quite hard to watch and get pretty brutal for both the rider and the bull so keep an eye out for those parts.
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Posted on 6th July 2015 by Elinore Court.
Elinore Court lives at Liberty House in London, she is studying a masters degree in Magazine Journalism at City University.