With ten film adaptations of his books already, and an 11th (The Choice) set for early 2016, it is clear that Nicholas Spark’s brand of romantic love stories make him Hollywood’s favorite author.
With his latest, The Longest Ride, I think Sparks’ faithful (overwhelmingly female) audience might find, as I did in my video review above, that this is the best since 2004’s blockbuster The Notebook. That’s saying something: I consider that movie the Gone With The Wind of the genre given its influence.
While not quite in the same league as that Ryan Gosling/Rachel McAdams tearjerker, this one fills the bill for audiences seeking a well-made love story, something that used to be an film staple before comic books took over. In other words, though the plot has plenty of holes, The Longest Ride is still a romantic winner.
It also could springboard Scott Eastwood, in his first big role, to movie stardom. Eastwood plays Luke Collins , a pro bull-riding champion sidelined by a serious injury but now on the comeback trail. He meets Sophia (Britt Robertson) and sparks fly.
The complication: she’s landed an internship at a ritzy New York art gallery. Like Luke, she’s striving to live her dream. But love gets in the way and complicates things.
So does a chance encounter with an elderly man played by Alan Alda, whom the couple find trapped in his burning car. Luke rescues the man and Sophia grabs a box of letters next to him on the seat. As he recovers, Sophia begins visiting him in the hospital and reading those letters, which tell the story of his own relationship with his late wife.
The film, directed by George Tillman Jr., veers between Luke and Sophia’s contemporary tale and the older one in the stories, (played effectively in flashback sequences by Oona Chaplin and Jack Huston). Eventually the two strands intersect with a nice twist near the end.
The Longest Ride provides a great opportunity for Eastwood, son of Clint, to strut his stuff on the back of a bull and in the bedroom (no opportunity has been spared by Tillman and cinematographer David Tattersall to show off Eastwood’s star-quality looks and build). Robertson nicely complements him and they make a great-looking pair.
Temple Hill partners Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey team up again with Sparks as producers along with the author’s own production partner, Theresa Park. Craig Bolotin did the screenplay. 20th Century Fox releases on April 10.
Do you plan to see The Longest Ride? Watch my review and let us know what you think.