Starring Helen Hunt, Luke Wilson, Brenton Thwaites
Ride is the second time Academy Award winner Helen Hunt (As Good As It Gets, The Sessions) has directed herself behind the camera. Following her portrayl of Bethany Hamilton’s mother in Soul Surfer, this is Hunt’s second time exhibiting surf skills. Ride is a beautifully unconventional love story between a mother and son. The script written by Hunt, slowly reveals the tragedy in this possessive, New York woman’s life as we watch her push 20-year-old Australian actor Brandon Thwaites (The Giver) away. She nearly pushes us away too with the annoying motor mouth dialogue in the beginning. However, Hunt has a lot to say, especially in her comparisons between Southern California lifestyle, The Big Apple and motherhood.
Angelo (Thwaites) has chosen to live with his father for the summer, drop out of the writing program at NYU which will only take him 85 steps away from his mother (Hunt). “You are not interesting to me anymore,” he says to her viciously, upon learning she has followed him to California. Their strained relationship is the product of an early tragedy that left their family broken into pieces. Angelo wants to surf and disregard his mothers expectations with writing, “If something you could never do or understand,” he tells her on his new found sport. Arrogant Jackie from New York hires a driver and an instructor (Wilson) so she can understand the objectivity of surfing and this new West Coast lifestyle. The separation of mother and son becomes a profound experience for both.
Hunt has chosen to explore a project that feeds an underserved demographic.
The nagging between son and mother is off putting in the early moments of the film, however I trust not only Hunt as an actor but as a director and felt rewarded by staying with Ride. Through comedy and tragedy we see the many obstacles in this 50-year-old woman’s life and through a slow unveiling begin to understand her off putting attitude toward life. Hunt’s perspective on the 20-year-old male is a little overly traditional but the revelations on her own demographic and the exploration of someone making life changes at various ages is captured beautifully through dialogue and surrendering control to a sport life surfing. Hunt and her cinematographer capture all the colorful and idyllic representations of Southern California through the cafes, beachside accommodations and the overall composition of claustrophobic city life versus the open shore.
It goes without saying films by women, about women and starring women are rare, but like other recent Oscar winning actresses, Hunt has chosen to explore a project that feeds an underserved demographic. Ride also happens to be a life lessons for all genders and age groups. It feels as personal as her previous film Then She Found Me starring Bette Midler. Hunt is a captivating actress, writing and directing this film from the heart and by its conclusion you feel a kinship with Jackie and the journey of self-discovery she has taken.
Hunt delivers an endearing and one of a kind mother/son, NY/LA juxtaposition dramedy.