“The Longest Ride”: A Nostalgic Journey

PG-13
139 minutes
Drama, Romance

Cast: Scott Eastwood, Britt Robertson, Alan Alda, Jack Huston, Oona Chaplin

Young love.
Young love.

“The Longest Ride” is two stories from two different eras that become connected by fate. Professional Bull Rider, Luke Collins’ (Scott Eastwood) career has been impressive though not without serious injuries. Getting back on a bull is a major accomplishment. Sophia Danko (Britt Robertson) is an art history major at Wake Forest with an internship waiting upon graduation in New York. So when the two meet and seemingly share a genuine connection, they’re fearful to cultivate the relationship because they come from two very different places, heading down two very different paths. Then by fate they’re faced with a life-saving emergency when they pull an old man from a burning car.

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He’s Ira Levinson (Alan Alda.) A widow and a curmudgeon whose long hospital stay becomes more pleasant only with Sophia’s visits. Since his failing eyesight prevents him from reading, she visits nearly every today to read to him all the personal letters he wrote his wife Ruth (Oona Chaplin) through their many years of marriage from the first time Ira (Jack Huston) laid eyes on her.

No relationship is perfect and all love requires sacrifice. But does that mean a cowboy has to settle by leaving his ranch for the city? Or that an art history lover has to stay stuck in rural America with no place to practice her passion? Or could there be another way?

Nicholas Sparks seems to often find a way to work it out. And perhaps that’s why women fall for his stories – whether paperback or movies – Sparks knows how to appeal to our gender. His writing may not be award winning but it sure sells novels and pulls women to theaters.  Perhaps it’s because he provides hope that even when it seems there’s no way imaginable for two unlikely loves to stay together, a believable answer seems to appear.

All eyes are on Scott Eastwood, son of Clint, who stars in this dramatic love story. Can the model he act? Sure. Does he look like his dad? Yes, but better. Does he handle his own stunts, in this case, bull riding? No. Well, at least after the bull leaves the gate. He left up to the professionals those famous 8-seconds bull riders are required to “hold on.”

“The Longest Ride” is to women this weekend what “Furious 7” was to men last weekend. It reminds us of our youth, those feelings of our first serious love, the romantic dance in our early 20’s when some hot guy clearly has feelings for us. Could he be THE one? Just like Ira was THE one for his wife Ruth?

The script is simple so don’t expect any academy award wins out of this film. But it’s well shot, well acted, and it left this middle-aged woman reaching for her tissues, even with the snickering row of film critics sitting behind me.  It also kept me in suspense: how would it end?  Was there a way for this young couple to end up together?  Let the critics laugh, I don’t care. It was fun remembering the sense of overwhelming love that comes with a first love. It’s remembering how I felt when I first really fell in love. It’s fun to remember a time when passion came at every turn,  when we couldn’t keep our hands off each other, when we each wondered how if ever we’d be able to be a permanent couple. And how trying times and sacrifice can be the best thing that ever happened to a relationship.

So ladies – hold your head high, grab a few kleenex and if the man you first fell in love with isn’t available to go see this one, grab a girlfriend you aren’t embarrassed to cry around.

Arruga! – 0

Fidget Factor – 0

Age Range – 13 and up

Overall Grade – B

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