Ride – Helen Hunt, 15, 2015
Netflix rates it: 3/5
I rate it: 3/5
Helen Hunt’s second directorial effort, Ride, follows uptight, overbearing editor Jackie (Hunt) as she faces the inevitable situation of her son leaving home. Both writers, Jackie and Angelo (Brenton Thwaites), are initially seen planning for his first year at university. However, after visiting his father (Robert Knepper) in Los Angeles, he decides to drop out in favour of a more relaxed lifestyle, simultaneously bringing about changes in Jackie’s life as she chases him across the country to question his decision.
Learning to surf becomes Jackie’s priority, and it is apparent by the end of the film that this new hobby exists because she wants to make things up to her son and get closer to him through something he enjoys; she is no longer interested in their usual petty bickering. As she learns the skill required to surf it is clear that her character develops, becoming far less controlling and concerned with work than she initially was. The change of scenery definitely helps her to let go, and this is essentially the overriding theme of the whole film. She progresses from thinking the phrase ‘just be happy’ is ridiculous and stupid to appreciating life as it comes and acknowledging that she’s lucky to be able to live life as she wants to. She even befriends her driver (David Zayas) and develops a relationship (other than with her job – success!)
There are plenty of comedic moments scattered throughout the film. For example, when Jackie first tries to struggle into a wetsuit or gets high at a restaurant. It’s almost as if she’s living life for all the years she missed out on being at work 24/7, which is amusing to see.
Usually in LA-based films the metropolitan areas are showcased, however here the laid back beaches are the main focus. A clear difference is highlighted between New York and Los Angeles, with the shots of New York grey and dull looking, and those of LA far more vibrant and sun-drenched. The fast-paced New York lifestyle seems somewhat unappealing when compared so directly to a more leisurely-paced alternative, and this is clearly shown through the use of slow motion camera shots in many of the early LA based scenes.
The only criticism of Ride is that it does not have a clear genre. Elements of sport, romantic comedy, dramedy, and coming of age films mean it can be confusing at times due to many overlapping storylines. However, the abundance of stories definitely keeps the film interesting throughout and doesn’t bore the audience! The combination of such different genres also means Ride has something for everyone to enjoy. Additionally, one particular important scene has very confusing dialogue, although everything is explained later on so this does not present a huge issue.
Hunt really shines in Ride, taking on the roles of director, writer and producer, all whilst playing the lead. She plays her character impressively, truly capturing Jackie’s desperation not to lose her son, and mastering the way she develops through new experiences. With witty dialogue and well acted-out sequences, Ride is definitely worth catching while it’s still on Netflix!