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The Mediocre Long Ride
My review on Nicholas Spark's The Longest Ride.
Beginning: The first thing is that I am probably going to be thrown these attacks of "You're not female so this doesn't apply to you." To that I would say I enjoyed The Notebook and plenty of other romance films. It's not fair to disallow people of other interest to review such a film. Also I don't think a film that is only supposed to satisfy its target audience should be considered good by any means. So with that in mind here we go.
My Summary: A young innocent cute little art student sorority college girl named Sophia Danko falls for an attractive southern rodeo country boy who all the girls love. This is basically your entire plot with all the Nicholas Sparks cliches and as well as an abundance of other plot points that get solved within a couple of seconds. I swear a new conflict is introduced within each passing minute. Some of them go absolutely nowhere and others don't matter.As a college student myself who loves movies of all genres (except westerns) and as a feminist myself I have always found Nicholas Sparks to be unbearable. I looked him up and have always wondered why he went into writing in the first place. I mean the guy has a degree in Business Finance from Notre Dame and he is writing novels? I just feel this guy could have done a lot more than what he chose. The biggest problem is his writing have all the tropes, cliches, melodramatic tricks, flat characters, tritely moralistic themes, and nearly exact same story formulas each time.
Positive: The one thing I can say that I'm glad for is that this movie didn't feel like completely the old stuff. There wasn't really much fight over nothing. In many films like these the guy usually says or does something stupid that the woman gives him a hard time for and makes it into something too serious. There wasn't that much stupid decision making. The actors were given somewhat of good things to talk about. The topics of growing old even if you can't have kids, keep doing what you love even if you shouldn't, agreeing on a long distance relationship, and plenty more issues that you don't always see talked about. The pacing was done very well since the passing of time made you feel you were watching these characters grow mentally. Since there are two stories going on at once it isn't hard to follow each story since nothing is rushed to the point where you lose focus. And I'm just going to put it out there the build up to the sex scene was very well done. Yes, most of Nicholas Sparks movies (I haven't seen all of them) still have a sex scene. The shot, lighting, coloring, acting, music, and montage editing all felt smooth and just right. The chemistry between the two main leads is cute I will admit. I do find it irritating to constantly see young couple go through the unrealistically corny struggle of being together and possibly being separated by something. We all know they will get together in the end or not but that is not interesting. But something that romance films can do is boast some talented actors awareness so they can star in more interesting films. Ryan Gosling starred in The Notebook and then he went on to star in better films like Drive, Half Nelson, and Blue Valentine.
Negative: Well the fact that the main actress is supposed to be acting like an innocent college girl was not fooling me. Of course Sparks is trying to talk about love again in his story with two incredibly attractive actors. She expects him to come on to her because she is innocent and an art student (seriously what romance movie actually shows a woman having the guts to ask the guy out for once without the guy having to make all the moves, please name me one to watch). The idea that romance is made from the point of view from a woman is both offensive and contradicting. The fact that romance is for women is false when it comes to movies like this because the entire movie is focused either on the male characters or the female characters trying to resist or get the male's attention. But I'm not going to trash on the film for giving me a story with the romance template already intact. But as far as the plot is concerned there are way too many things that are brought up in the film. In the beginning they make it clear that she is going to leave to go to a different state and so the question of whether they love each other enough to give up their career in order to be together is brought up. Jeez I wonder what they will do. The boy also had a bad head injury and is told to stop rodeo by his girlfriend because she doesn't want him to die so he has to make a decision if the woman he met just through a glance at one of his rodeo and just known for 2 months is worth giving up his career ambition. Jeez its also a romance film I wonder what he will choose. Then they meet an old man who had letters he was writing to his wife and the girl decides to read it to him. He shares his life with his wife from when he met her to when she was out of his life. They go through literally all the struggles that one can go through and with each conflict that is presented it is just as fastly solved 10 seconds later. The entire film gives you a pattern of happy, loving, conflict, no we can get through this, no we can't get through this, pain, resolution, happy. Literally every interesting conflict is brushed off. The wife of the old man struggle with the idea of not being able to have kids and attempts to leave her husband, 5 seconds later realizes she was being stupid and all is better. The husband tries to stay away from his wife because he can't have kids, 15 seconds later realizes he was being stupid and screws her afterwards. There are too many subplots to name that go nowhere. Also the film's ending is probably going to be the most overlooked part of the film. I can sum it all up in saying money solves everything. Happy ending, and I would too if I had millions of dollars because an old man who she knew for a few days leaves everything he owned to her. It is just a safe route that many films take to show that all is better now and nothing is left for you to worry about. All their problems have been solved because they gave up their careers for each other and now they don't need it because they have more money than they need. I would love to see a sequel to this where they let all the money go to their head and they end up getting a divorce because then you would have some legitimate problem to deal with. It basically throws out all the problems the old man told her he had in his past but screw it the man wasn't young and rich so there is nothing to worry about anymore. I hate when films end like that because it allows you to forget everything you were shown previously (not that the problems the old couple had lasted that long because that would be reality). I feel this film is offensive to the realities of the elderly and married couples. It brought up interesting questions but answered basically with one word answers.
I would recommend this film to teen romance fans just because it is less offensive than most other romance fans like it but also the fact that it poses interesting questions to think about (even if all they do is pose them rather than go through them. I wouldn't recommend it as a good movie or even well made but as something to see on a date night or passing time. It is definitely better than most of Spark's films. But again don't take it serious by any means and don't let it manipulate you into thinking its more than what it is. Pure romantic escapism, nothing more!