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New Release Review - RIDE (DVD)

A mother travels to California to be with her drop-out surfing obsessed son.

Review by Emily Craig

Directed by: Helen Hunt

Starring: Helen Hunt, Brenton Thwaites, Luke Wilson




"Hunt’s a great actor and it’s not a bad directorial/writing attempt, but Ride is let down by poor pacing and lack of character development, which results in a rather pointless story."



Ride is a quirky drama, directed by and starring Academy Award winning actress Helen Hunt, about a snobby New York editor, Jackie (Hunt), and her son, Angelo (Brenton Thwaites), an aspiring writer who drops out of college. To avoid the academic life his mother wants for him, he heads to California to visit his father (Robert Knepper) and take on the waves with his surfboard, with Jackie soon following.
The film’s first 10 minutes feel lost. We're introduced to Jackie and her son, who appear to have a close relationship – they go for meals together and stay up all night watching films. We're then hit by multiple montage scenes and cross-cutting; this technique is used too frequently in the film and consequently the pacing is unbalanced. There definitely needs to be some longer conversational scenes in the first part of the film for it to flow properly, as unfortunately, it doesn’t. The two characters repeatedly text each other and although viewers can read the texts on screen, there is an annoying voice-over verbalising what we can already see.
We soon learn that the close relationship we've seen is greatly exaggerated and doesn’t reflect on the rest of the film. Angelo calls his mother “Jackie” and it is never properly explained as to why he does this. As soon as he travels to California, he completely rejects her and does not wish to see her. There isn’t enough build up as to why they have this shaky relationship, though the film tries to delve into it with the backstory of the death of Angelo’s younger brother. Considering this is a film about their relationship as mother and son, there isn’t a lot of discussion about it.
We're introduced to other characters in the film, such as Jackie’s chauffeur, Ramon (David Zayas), and her surfer instructor/love interest Ian (Luke Wilson); these characters needed to be pushed to the background for the film to work but they become more and more involved in the main story. Scenes involving Angelo and Jackie are awkward and unrealistic – a lot of the time he acts like he barely knows her yet at the start of the film they were watching films together snuggled on the couch. Eventually, surfing becomes a big part of the story and the romance between Jackie and Ian becomes the subplot; the bid to build a relationship with her son becomes last priority. We see her crashing the waves and kissing Ian more than we see her talking to Angelo.
All this being said, the acting is strong (particularly Hunt) and the film is engaging enough, but it just doesn’t satisfy in the way I think it is supposed to. The scenes of Jackie surfing and getting high are well-balanced and strong; as Hunt wrote the film, I get the impression that she was more concerned with giving her character depth and therefore abandoning other parts of the film. She’s a great actor and it’s not a bad directorial/writing attempt, but Ride is let down by poor pacing and lack of character development, which results in a rather pointless story.



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