In the tradition of full disclosure, I must admit that I have not read The Longest Ride prior to seeing the movie. So this is spotlight is entirely about the movie.
I’ll also admit that Nicholas Sparks’ books/movies are hit and miss with me. Every one of his stories has one thing in common…death. And when it comes to main characters dying…you lose me. Every time. I really hate investing hours in a book or movie just to have one of the main characters killed off. Know, I know that in real life, death happens. I’m not naïve and disputing that. But for me, I read romances as an escape from regular life. They’re fun, feel good books (even the ones with angst). They let me live lives that I’ll never have (and in some cases, never want). But I love the HEA at the end. Where things work out and the characters find the person they’re meant to be with and they have a bright and shiny future ahead of them. So to spend hours becoming attached and invested in the lives of characters for them to die…it doesn’t work for me. Consequently, I don’t read a lot of Nicholas Sparks books.
But I have seen almost every movie (the exception being The Last Song and Best of Me). Like I said, they’re hit or miss for me. Nights in Rodanthe and Message in a Bottle were two I hated. But they’re also two where main characters die at the end, so there’s no HEA.
I recently read an article where Nicholas Sparks spoke of being aware that his future books might be made into movies so he strives to make his books different. (I’m kicking myself for not saving the article now). The reason I bring this up is because the comment was playing through my head as I watched The Longest Ride. It reminded me a lot of The Notebook. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, both have a story revolving around the 1940s-50s and WWII, so it stands to reason that some comparisons will be made. But there were a couple scenes that, for me, were almost identical. One was the scenes on the beach (minus the “I’m a bird, you’re a bird” stuff) and another scene involving a lady with suitcases. But other than that the stories were different.
Overall, the movie was good. But I did have an issue. I guess it’s only natural that when a book/movie has two storylines, you may end up loving one over the other. I found that to be the case here. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed both, but I found that the WWII/1940s-50s story about Alan Alda (Hawkeye!)’s character as a young man much more enjoyable. To me, it just had more depth, like more work had gone into creating that relationship between the characters, creating a connection and a story you’re invested in. I enjoyed the story between Scott Eastwood’s Luke and Britt Robertson’s Sophia but I just never got the sense that the relationship was developed as much as Ira and Ruth’s was. That’s the other thing. I walked out of the theater thinking about Ira and Ruth while I couldn’t remember Sophia’s name (I had to look it up just to write this). The biggest thing that kept me engaged with their story was Scott Eastwood. Aside from being amazing to look at (Those eyes! That smile! *swoon* He even makes cowboys hot and I’m not into cowboys!), he also was completely believable as Luke Collins. I was invested in his career bull riding, his health issues resulting from past injuries from bull riding and what he would eventually choose. But I was never invested in Sophia’s story. She was most interesting when she was talking to Alan Alda’s Ira.
Like I said, the movie was good. The story between Ira and Ruth was great. Scott Eastwood is fun to watch and I can’t wait to see him in more movies. Will I watch this again…yeah. Will I get the DVD….sure. Will I read the book…No. I could read it, and I’d have a great visual with Scott Eastwood as Luke, but honestly, I have no desire to. IF the movie is just like the book, Luke and Sophia’s relationship wasn’t well developed and I don’t want to sit through that again.
But what I’m really curious about and the question I’m going to leave you with today is this: To those of you that have read The Longest Ride…a) what did you think of the movie compared to the book; b) was the relationship between Luke and Sophia glossed over in the movie or was it as underdeveloped in the book?