Over the past decade or so, each year romantics all over the world have been treated to a new film adaptation of one of Nicholas Sparks' popular novels. 2015 is the year of The Longest Ride, which also happens to be the author's most recent book. While the film is not one of Sparks' best, it is still one that ticks all the required 'Sparks' boxes: a set of attractive actors, a good dose of romance, a beautiful setting, and the plot line of a best-selling novel. Luke (Scott Eastwood) is a former champion bull rider who, after an accident within the field, is working hard to make a comeback in the bull riding world. Student Sophia (Blair Robertson) is about to start a new exciting period of her life, working in the New York City art world, which is a dream come true. Luke and Sophia at first sight appear to be worlds apart, but as soon as they meet, sparks fly. One day, the couple see a car that has crashed and they rescue the man inside. This turns out to be 91-year-old Ira Levinson and Sophia straight away forms a bond with him. He shares all the memories of his life with his beloved wife Ruth with her. But as Sophia finds herself falling for Luke more and more every day, she doesn't know that Luke is hiding something, something that could change everything within seconds.

The original novel which forms the basis for this film is one of my favourite books I've read so far this year. While the film is an enjoyable and captivating one with certain specific strengths, it didn't manage to make its way to the top of my Nicholas Sparks films list. Directed by George Tillman Jr., this tenth Nicholas Sparks film adaptation has all the typical elements: an enchanting love story filled with romance, a beautiful North Carolina setting, and a set of good-looking actors. While Eastwood (yes, the son of Clint) seems to have been born to play the role of cowboy Luke, and will make all female viewers swoon; Britt Robertson's portrayal of Sophia wasn't too convincing. Luckily, there is another amazing storyline to save the film in the form of Ira, an old man who lovingly thinks back to his life with his wife Ruth. The actors really brought this storyline to life and it was undoubtedly my favourite part of the film. In my opinion, The Longest Ride is not one of the best Nicholas Sparks films (I definitely recommend reading the novel, if you have time) but still one that's great to pick up if you're looking for a good dose of romance with a captivating story at its core.

Movie reviewed by Jody Hoekstra

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