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Review: The Longest Ride

Looking to walk out of the movie theatre with a smile on your face, tears in your eyes, and fully convinced that happily-ever-after must exist? If so, then check out Nicholas Sparks’ latest love story – The Longest Ride. Not a fan of picture-perfect fantasies? You may want to skip it.

Sparks, author of the novel behind the film, has become notorious for his beautiful leading men, breathtaking southern landscapes, and epic kisses in the rain, and rest assured – The Longest Ride has all of the essential components. Predictable from the start, yes, but oh so satisfying. Sparks does throw a little curveball this time, adding an element to the narrative we’ve not yet encountered: bull-riding.

The film tells the story of Luke, a bull-riding champion, and Sophia, a college senior with a passion for art. The two are on completely different paths; he’s trying to make a rodeo comeback after a near-death injury, and she’s heading off to pursue her dream job in a Manhattan gallery. Despite the impending obstacles, Luke and Sophia fall in love.

The bull-riding scenes end up being some of the most interesting of the film. Director George Tillman Jr. manages to draw in audiences and authentically capture the adrenaline rush of the sport. You might be surprised to find yourself itching to learn more about the crazy world of bull-riding, or about the cowboys themselves…

Like it or not, The Longest Ride’s romantic leads are both formulated to perfection. Luke, played by newcomer Scott Eastwood (yes, son of Clint), may be Sparks’ most handsome leading man yet, with more beauty shots of his chiseled jawline than actual lines in the movie. Sophia, played by the lovely Britt Robertson, is the ultimate “cool girl” fantasy – she’s sassy, smart, and has no qualms about tripping into a muddy pond, while still managing to climb out looking as gorgeous as ever.

It may not come as much of a shock that Luke and Sophia’s love story isn’t very memorable. Their chemistry is cute, flirtation is sweet, but the only lasting impression they leave is that they are two nice kids trying to navigate a first love. The most enchanting parts of the movie actually belong to the film’s secondary love story, told by an elderly gentleman named Ira, who the young couple befriend over the course of the film. As Ira shares memories of his enduring romance with his beloved wife, Luke and Sophia begin to find inspiration in their story.

As both relationships unfold on screen, they begin to complement each other and teach necessary lessons, but Sparks arguably takes the parallels a little too far when the film concludes with an overlap so flawless and convenient that you’re left unsure whether you should feel happy or uneasy.

While it’s somewhat unsettling to watch everyone walk away with exactly what they were looking for, the fact is, we’ve entered the world of Nicholas Sparks where perfect, never-ending loves are possible. Who can resist escaping into that world for a few hours?

[star v=3]

Kate White

Kate White works in PR in Toronto. She has a weakness for classic film and loves a good meet-cute. If you let her pick the movie, it will be When Harry Met Sally, every time.