Film review: The Longest Ride (12A)**

Scott Eastwood in The Longest Ride
Scott Eastwood in The Longest Ride
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Based on the book by Nicholas Sparks, the undisputed maestro of slushy romantic fiction, The Longest Ride is a leisurely trot across emotional terrain that will be familiar to any tear-stained fan of The Notebook.

Beautiful people fall giddily in love in lustrous close-up, fate throws them a curve ball, separation seems inevitable, but they decide to risk everything for that one precious shot at forever, usually with the spectre of death hovering ominously over at least one of the characters.

Clint Eastwood’s son Scott proves he has inherited his father’s good looks and easy-going charisma as the swaggering hero, who believes in bringing a girl flowers on a first date.

Eastwood plays hunky farmer’s son Luke Collins, who is badly injured during the Professional Bull Riders tour on a mean animal called Rango.

One year later, he makes his comeback and catches the eye of university senior Sophia Danko (Britt Robertson), who is reluctant to pursue romance because she must leave North Carolina in two months for an internship at a New York art gallery.

Eventually, Luke and Sophia enjoy a magical first date and on the way home, they rescue a 91-year-old man from a burning car.

The passenger - Jewish art collector Ira Levinson (Alan Alda) - recuperates in hospital and Sophia offers to read aloud his treasured love letters to his late wife.

These gushing missives spark flashbacks to 1930s and 1940s North Carolina when Ira (now played by Jack Huston) is instantly smitten with neighbour Ruth (Oona Chaplin) and they make a series of sacrifices to nurture the relationship.

Past and present become entwined and Luke faces an agonising decision between bull-riding glory and his sweetheart.

Aside from the attractive leads, Huston and Chaplin are solid in flashbacks and Alda brings gravitas to his underwritten role as the sage mentor in matters of the heart.

He even adds a sheen of sincerity to the script’s relentlessly corny dialogue.