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LONGEST RIDE, THE

SYNOPSIS: Sophia (Britt Robertson) has landed an internship with a prestigious New York art gallery, but meets Luke Collins (Scott Eastwood), just as he prepares to ride at a Professional Bull Riding event. Ninety-one year old Ira Levinson (Alan Alda) is also on a life-changing course, having lost his wife Ruth some eight years earlier. He has a car accident on his way to Black Mountain, North Carolina and is rescued by Luke and Sophia, who manage to salvage Ira's previous box of old letters. Ira asks her to read them to him. Young Ruth (Oona Chaplin) and Young Ira (Jack Huston) have lived a life filled with many similar challenges to those facing Luke and Sophia.

Review by Louise Keller:
When it comes to the highs and lows of love and relationships with never-ending twists and turns, complete with tissues, Nicholas Sparks is a proven brand name. Like earlier film adaptations that include The Notebook, Dear John, Safe Haven, Nights in Rodanthe and The Best of Me, The Longest Ride delivers romance, passion, heartbreak and surprises - beautifully. It also boasts a superb cast, including the hunky and extremely handsome Scott Eastwood, whose resemblance to his father Clint in his heyday is disconcerting: the smile, the profile, the build. The film is an ideal chick flick, date movie and emotional tour de force for anyone who is romantic at heart.

A girl who loves art with splotches and a boy who loves the way she loves the art forms an emotionally dense canvas around which this dual love story about love, sacrifice and compromise is framed. Black Rain screenwriter Craig Bolotin has succinctly adapted Sparks' novel, allowing the flashbacks that act as the inspiration for the contemporary love story to weave seamlessly in and out, enabling us to engage with both pairs of lovers facing similar challenges albeit in totally different circumstances.

First up, director George Tillman Jnr quickly establishes the relationship between Sophia (Britt Robertson, lovely), a pretty, go-getter college student and Luke Collins (Eastwood), a champion rodeo rider who is on his way back following a devastating accident a year earlier involving a brute of a bucking bull called Rango. She is not a rodeo type, but when he tells her to keep his cowboy hat after he has wowed the crowd, she is smitten. The way the relationship develops is utterly charming, the surprise being that Luke is an old fashioned kinda guy who gives a girl flowers on a first date and devises romantic surprises. Girls will drool and rightly so. Luke is also a hero - his rescue of the elderly Ira (Alan Alda) after a car accident at night in the rain, is the device that transports us into the world of the young Ira (Jack Huston) and the love of his life, Ruth (Oona Chaplin).

Chaplin is magnetic as Ruth, the warm, outspoken, life affirming Jewish Viennese immigrant who arrives in North Carolina and immediately notices the handsome, shy Ira (Huston, greatly appealing), who is also quietly heroic and loving. She loves dressing up, wants a big family and is passionate about modern art. The sequence involving the young boy who Ruth tells he can be anything he wants to be, is especially moving. As Sophia reads Ira's love letters to Ruth out loud, their relationship from the day they meet in 1940, plays out in flashback.

Inevitable comparisons are made between the two love affairs and Ira becomes a confidant as the differences and difficulties between Sophia and Luke become more and more apparent. 'Love requires sacrifice,' Ira tells the young couple, as their future seems impossible. There are tears and fears; decisions are made and consequences met. The fact that each character is so well defined and that we like them so much, has much to do with our involvement and enjoyment of the story. The fact that three cast members have regal Hollywood pedigree is a bonus. Sparks elevates love into the fantasy to which we all aspire and here, both couples love with a ferocious passion, allowing us to be transported into a world in which love is everything and there can only be one person for each of us.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

LONGEST RIDE, THE (M)
(US, 2015)

CAST: Scott Eastwood, Melissa Benoist, Britt Robertson, Alan Alda, Jack Huston, Oona Chaplin, Lolita Davidovich

PRODUCER: Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Theresa Park, Nicholas Sparks

DIRECTOR: George Tillman Jr

SCRIPT: Craig Bolotin (novel by Nicholas Sparks)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Tattersall

EDITOR: Jason Ballantine

MUSIC: Mark Isham

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mark Garner

RUNNING TIME: 127 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 9, 2015







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