I’d warn for spoilers, but it’s a Nicholas Sparks movie. You all know exactly what’s going to happen.
This movie is about two star-crossed lovers — bull rider Luke Collins (Scott Eastwood), who is struggling to come back from a concussion he sustained a year before, and attentive college senior and sorority girl Sophia Danko (Britt Robertson), who already has an art curation internship lined up for her impending graduation. She’s initially unwilling to join her sisters at the rodeo, where they plan on meeting all the hot guys, but through the magic of peer pressure, she’s there on time and dressed exactly like everyone else to boot.
What chance! What moonlit magic! By some twist of fate, our two heroes catch each other’s eye! After Collins’ ride, the rodeo clowns serendipitously all go out for a cup of coffee at the same time, leaving Collins to clamber over the enclosure toward Danko. He leaves her his hat, as he knows fate and hormones will bring them back together.
They do, of course, at the bar later that night. Danko offers to buy him a drink, but “It doesn’t work like that where I come from,” is his reply. Over time, Collins’ traditional Southern gentlemanly values endear him to her, a stark contrast to most men who just send her late night dick pics. Oh, what romance for an era of courtship long gone!
However, they soon realize their love is doomed, as Danko only has two months left in North Carolina. They somberly return from their romantic picnic date, knowing that there’s simply no point in being involved if it’ll only be for two months.
With one conflictless plot already going nowhere, the movie introduces another when they pick up Ira Levinson (Alan Alda) out of his flaming car on the side of the road.
Levinson takes Danko through his own star-crossed love story. We meet Ruth (Oona Chaplin), his wife. He is initially nervous toward her, but they eventually make out. A refugee from Nazi-occupied Austria, Ruth tells him of her love for art and all the wonderful painters from Vienna.
Inspired by the old Jews in love, the screenwriter finally gets over himself and lets Collins and Danko do it.
Back in Levinson’s love story, World War II comes around, and he must deploy. Rescuing a fellow combatant, he’s… well, it’s not really clear what happens. It’s implied that he’s shot somewhere near his balls and the injury gets infected, sterilizing him, but that doesn’t make any sense. The male anatomy is way too delicate for that. There’s no way a bullet wound would be close enough to infect his balls but far enough away to not blow them off entirely. Further, he still performs sexually later in the film. Did one get him hard while the other produced semen, and that’s the one he lost? That’s not how testicles work.
Anyway, they have this whole thing where he’s sterile but virile, and she really wanted to have a big family so she gets a teaching job and tries to steal her kids, or something. Despite half of it being set during World War II, this is the movie’s first real conflict.
Then, the present day couple breaks up because Collins gets another concussion and won’t stop riding.
But wait! All’s not lost! The old Jews get back together, because compromise! They grow old together and Ruth eventually dies. The music plays this off as a tragic surprise, despite it being an obvious plot requirement from the moment of her introduction.
Back in the present, his story finally told, Levinson follows suit. Despite his body being broken and his lady love long dead, this too is supposed to be a sad thing.
Meanwhile, Collins rides the bull that gave him his first concussion for the full 8.0 and sticks the landing. With his progression through the rest of the film combined with the nasty reputation of this particular bull and his perfection riding it, he leaps to the rank of No. 1 bull rider in the world. He looks up at a sea of cheering faces, none of them the loving girlfriend that inspired him to this point.
I don’t have a sarcastic gif for this. I really felt something here. This character has sacrificed everything to pursue a dangerous, not widely respected dream, and having achieved it, he can only think of what he lost along the way. This is a truly tragic moment, and really makes you wonder what this story could have been if it weren’t all Nicholas Sparksy.
Anyway, he goes to Levinson’s funeral auction and wins back Danko with little effort, and then wins all of Levinson’s priceless art by being the only one to bid on Levinson’s personal favorite, turning Levinson into the haggard old woman from every fairy tale ever.
With one partner having sacrificed his dreams and all hopes of happiness not tied to their relationship because compromise, the duo live happily ever after. Until they both get Alzheimer’s and die, because Nicholas Sparks.
Leopold Knopp is a formerly professional film critic, licensed massage therapist and journalism student at the University of North Texas. Can we stop for a second and talk about how much series 3 of Sherlock sucked? I’ve had a change of heart about reader input. It is now welcomed and encouraged. Like Reel Entropy on Facebook, follow it on Twitter @reelentropy, and shoot questions to reelentropy@.