His novels and films are a brand at this point, and you’re either in one of two camps, you either love the weepy tragedy or you hate it. To be honest, if you’re in the former camp it doesn’t really matter what critics or anyone says. Critics be damned.
In the newest Nicholas Sparks film, The Longest Ride out now on Blu-ray, We are a handed a similar scenario. There is doomed love, unrequited love, sort-of requited love, basically a lot of love. The young stud in this Nicholas Sparks version is Luke Collins (Scott Eastwood), he’s an ambitious rodeo bull rider who early on has a serious injury. While in recovery, Luke meets Sophia Danko (Britt Robertson) a young art student. A romance of course starts to blossom, despite the fact they come from two different worlds.
Besides the fact that both of them are impossibly chiseled and gorgeous, what could stop these two madcap fools? On a dark and stormy night, they help an elderly man, Ira Levinson (Alan Alda) who was involved in a car accident. He insists that they save a basket of letters who he says is more important than he is.
Luke decides to leave town and become a rodeo star and Sophia helps to nurse Ira back to health. Sophia decides to read Ira’s letters to him, which is the point where we go back in time to see Ira’s love story take place. Young Ira (Jack Huston) starts a love affair with Ruth (Oona Chaplin), and they eventually tie the knot. Ruth is a Polish Jewish immigrant who escaped the horrors of WWII, she wants a big family but Ira can’t have that thanks to an old war injury.
Got all that? Good.
The connection between the two couples isn’t the lack of child rearing, but art. Sophia is studying art and apparently has an eye for recognizing young talent. Okay.
I admit, I love all movies, so when I see Nicholas Sparks name above the title of any film, it doesn’t make me cringe, but I do know what I’m getting. The main issue with the film is the ability to tie the two stories together, and it’s flimsy at best. I really wanted a strong tie to make the film a cohesive whole, The Notebook did this excellently.
Acting wise, Scott Eastwood is very easy on the eyes and you can see how he’s going to ride his abs to leading man status. He’s good and has a lot of his father’s acting qualities, this definitely helps him. As Sophia, Britt Robertson is also good, she’s shown range in films like Cake and the last Scream film, and here she does a good job playing off Scott Eastwood.
The Longest Ride arrives on Blu-ray in a great transfer thanks to 20th Century Fox Home Video. There is excellent detail, the close up especially look stunning. The rodeo scenes do tend to blur a bit but I think that’s more of a filmmakers choice than a loss issue with the video quality.
Special features on this edition include about twenty minutes of deleted and extended scenes, each features optional commentary tracks as well.
There are several short EPK style behind the scenes featurettes:
Beyond The Ride features interviews with the cast and crew.
Bringing it to Life is a talk between Alan Alda and Nicholas Sparks.
Meet the Bull Riders is a featurette with actual cowboys.
Luke’s Bull Riding School details Scott Eastwood’s rodeo training.
A Writer’s Journey: A Day in the Life of Nicholas Sparks is a look at Nicholas Sparks writing process. It’s less of a day and more like five minutes.
There are audio commentaries, the original theatrical trailer, and a photo still gallery.
Overall, while The Longest Ride is a serviceable entry into the Nicholas Sparks cannon, it’s not at the top of his films. There are so many standard “Nicholas Sparks” tropes here, that it becomes a little paint by numbers. That makes it hard to really break out as a film even with solid performances by the two leads. Still, if you’re in the weepy love story mood you can do far worse than this new release.
Share on Facebook
The Longest Ride is out now on Blu-ray!