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The Longest Ride

From the pen of Nicholas Sparks, two intertwined romances ... plus bull-riding!

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Today: Can a sweet sorority girl (Britt Robertson) find true love with a bull-rider (Scott Eastwood) fighting back from a head injury? Or what about the 1940s, where there's an Austrian Jewish refugee (Oona Chaplin) who wants lots of kids and a war hero (Jack Huston) with a ... uh ... significant injury? How could these two romances possibly intersect, and why must everything happen in North Carolina?

Welcome to this year's Nicholas Sparks adaptation, where the magical glue is — surprise! — modern art. (No, really. Willem De Kooning is a very minor character.) George Tillman Jr.'s film is less baroque (read: soap-opera tragic) than some of the earlier Sparks films, though its low-key earnestness does make it fairly slow going. The decent actors help — Alan Alda is also on board — even if this fare is below them, and fans of Sparks' water-based romancing won't be disappointed. (There's a pond and a walk-in shower in a very groovy barn loft.) As some other great writer said, "It is what is," and you already know whether it's for you.

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