Nicholas Sparks’ novels seem to be all the rage. Every year, it’s as if one of his books is made into a movie; think of A Walk to Remember, Safe Haven, The Lucky One, Dear John. All these movies are romantic dramas, they all have attractive leads, some sort of emotional or physical crisis, trials and a reunion of sorts. Sometimes the endings are happy and other times, painful or bittersweet.
The two main characters in this one, Sophia ( Britt Robertson and Luke (Scott Eastman), couldn’t be more opposite of each other. She is an artsy type, with a keen eye for design, texture and colors and he is a rough and tumble cowboy who competes in rodeos. Luke works with a professional bull riding group and becomes injured pretty badly. Enough to put him out of commission for almost a year. After a year passes, he becomes better and is fit enough to ride again – this is when he meets Sophia.
She’s out with her friends and well, of course, they check out the strapping young guy who has blue eyes, dirty blond hair and is built in all the right places. They go out on a date and when the night is almost over, they come across what looks like an accident scene: an elderly man is trapped inside a badly damaged car.
The man’s name is Ira Levinson (Alan Alda). Through flashbacks, we find out that Ira was once married and has been recently widowed. He’s barely alive, alone and his health is very bad. In his car were photos of his wife and their life in the 40’s and 50’s. Sophia visits Ira in the hospital and finds out a little more about his past life. Ira had gone off to war; this created strife between him and his love, Ruth. War has a tendency to change a person: post-traumatic stress disorder, disease,wounds, death. In Ira’s case he had been wounded and when he comes back from war, the bad news is that his wounds mean that he cannot have children of his own. Ruth, a school teacher, wanted to marry Ira and raise a large family with him. The path to true love is never a smooth one and Ira and Ruth both had their challenges. Together, they stuck it out and it looked as though they had a chance at adopting a child (a former student of Ruth’s), but alas it was not meant to be. Ira moves into a nursing home and Sophia, intrigued by the elderly gentleman, continues to spend time with him.
Sophia and Luke face their own sets of challenges. She is cultured and sophisticated. He is all about the sports, the fight, and the hunt. She isn’t too pleased with the fact that he pushes himself harder and faster every time he has to compete. The challenges they face is the dangers of Luke’s bull riding. It’s physically taxing on Luke,(not to mention that the animal also goes through pain and discomfort, all the sake of some stupid sport, but that’s just my opinion) with the risk of injury occurring every time he competes.
Ira is seen as a father figure, dispensing advice to Sophia, especially in matters of the heart. Luke competes again and is severely injured. If he could works things out with Ruth way back when, then surely Sophia and Luke will find a way to make their relationship work. “If you love it, set it free. If it comes back to you, then it’s meant to be,” is the old adage. Life is desolate and bleak for Ira. Ruth is dead and he feels like life really isn’t worth living. The one thing that Ira always loved about Ruth was her passion for painting. With Ruth gone, Ira boxes all her belongings, including her own paintings, and feebly attempts to move on. Sometimes, the past has a way of catching up to you: a woman visits Ira – she was married to the man who almost became Ruth and Ira’s son – and Daniel was so inspired by Ruth, that he made a better life for himself, he became a professor. Through Ruth’s love and devotion, Daniel prospered.
The same can be said for Luke and Sophia who reconcile and decide that they never want to be apart. It always takes some sort of crisis for people to realize what’s important in life. Some things are worth pursuing. As for the old pictures in Ira’s car that Luke found, well let’s just say that they come in handy. Ruth’s love for paintings – and Sophia’s, for that matter- must have given Ira one final spark, to help the young couple mend their ways and make for a pleasant ending although a bit predictable.
If you are a fan of Nicholas Sparks’ novels, then you will enjoy the movie. Most of the ladies I know enjoyed it for the scenery (ahem, Scott Eastwood). If you haven’t clicked the above clips then note that it debuts Saturday, 12.19 at 8:00pm or catch it on HBONow/Go. The Longest Ride.