A tale of parallel love stories, connected by the shared desire to overcome all obstacles and be together.

The latest in a long line of films adapted from Nicholas Sparks’ novels, The Longest Ride (directed by George Tillman Jr) is a sweet, emotional and dramatic love story which delivers everything you would expect from a Sparks tale.  It follows two parallel love stories, where a man and woman from vastly different backgrounds meet and fall in love but are faced with struggles which they must overcome to stay together.

The film focuses on Art History student Sophia (Britt Robertson) and her budding romance with professional bull rider Luke (portrayed by Clint Eastwood’s son, Scott Eastwood).  Following their first date, the couple rescue elderly widower Ira (Alan Alda) from a wrecked car, along with a box containing seventy year old love letters to his beloved Ruth (Oona Chaplin) which Sophia offers to read to him.  This begins the second love story of the film, in which the letters are dramatized in flashbacks, allowing the viewer to follow the story of Ruth and Ira (with young Ira portrayed by Jack Huston).  The stories of Ruth and Ira and Sophia and Luke are very similar, both men struggling to understand the love of fine art and completely different worlds their love comes from, whilst simultaneously battling their own demons.

Despite sounding like a saccharine, overly cheesy romantic film, The Longest Ride delivers in a way in which many other Sparks films do not.  The juxtaposition of the rough and gritty world of bull riding compared with the idyllic, dreamlike sequences following young Ira and Ruth makes for a film which is beautiful not just in cinematography but also in the way in which it truly connects with and touches the audience.  The addition of a fun and upbeat soundtrack provides a springboard for the action.  Robertson and Eastwood’s youthful vivacity is beautifully offset with the slower more sedate charm of Alda.  In my opinion, however, it is Chaplin who steals the show, as the beautiful and headstrong Ruth, delivering a performance which is passionate and compelling and really makes you understand why Ira fell so much in love with her.

To conclude, The Longest Ride is a film which, whilst a little slow at times, is romantic, emotional and delivers far more than expected.  Definitely a fun way to spend a couple of hours this summer.

Rating: 75%

Director: George Tillman Jr.

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

Genre: Romance, Drama

Running Time: 139 minutes