OPPOSITES ATTRACT, AGAIN?Britt Robertson and Scott Eastwood star in ‘The Longest Ride’.
NICHOLAS Sparks has done it again. The American novelist, screenwriter and producer has penned another novel that sees star-crossed lovers unravel on the big screen.
Sparks, author of ‘The Notebook’, ‘A Walk to Remember’ and ‘Dear John’, is the king of the tearjerker. This year’s romantic instalment comes in the form of ‘The Longest Ride’, 139 minutes of star-spangled indulgence. Think ‘The Notebook’ for cowboys.
Scott Eastwood, son of Clint, plays protagonist bull-rider Luke, who is staging a career comeback after a near-fatal fall.
Next we’re introduced to Sophia, played by Britt Robertson (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Amanda Seyfried, star of ‘Dear John’). She’s a New Jersey gal who is more interested in studying classic paintings than joining her sorority for a day at the rodeo.
Still, she’s convinced to go along, and (who would have thought it?) next thing we know Sophia is on her feet cheering on proceedings.
Luke is gorgeous, charming and a hit with the ladies, but one chance meeting with Sophia after dropping his stetson (not one bit cheesy) and he’s head over heels.
While all this is happening, and not happening, there’s a subplot that is, in effect, the exact same plotline as ‘The Notebook’.
A car crash introduces another character, Ira Levinson, and we spin back in time to the 1940s and Ira’s attempts to woo immigrant Ruth.
An ageing Ira played by Alan Alda, best known as Captain Hawkeye Pierce in MASH, narrates the events.
Rather unsurprisingly there are many parallels between the two stories – giving up what you love for love, and so on.
In Luke, Sparks has again created a ‘perfect man’ male lead, ruggedly handsome and chivalrous with only his dress sense leaving a lot to be desired. First-date attire of a check shirt, stetson and cowboy boots should only be worn if said date is to a fancy dress party.
While watching the film, I couldn’t ignore the long list of similarities it bears with Sparks’s other novels that have been adapted for the screen. I mean, the scene of Ira and Ruth frolicking on a beach was a near-exact replecation of one with Noah and Allie in ‘The Notebook’. The only difference is that Ira and Ruth’s story had a bit more bite to it in terms of storyline, and Ira isn’t played by someone with anything close to Ryan Gosling’s good looks. Sorry Jack Huston.
‘The Longest Ride’ revisits the ever-popular problem of two worlds colliding. Sophia is an educated college goer passionate about art, while Luke comments that there is ‘more bullshit here [an art gallery] than where I work’.
Despite all my complaining of hackneyed plots and cheesiness (the horse riding scene is SO awkward), I have to admit something. I cried. Yes, I cried like a little baby, and the majority of the audience cried with me. (Granted, they were mostly teenage girls.)
Sparks is an author who knows how to pull at the heart strings, and this definitely transfers to the screen. And the fact that this film is basically a rehash of his other work, it was always going to be a tear jerker.
If you want a good old-fashioned cry, go to see this – but perhaps not on a first date. And remember, leave your check shirt at home.
Rating 6 out of 10