Ride is a study in contrasts. The most obvious contrast is between its two settings. There’s the fast-paced New York in which the tale begins, where editor Jackie (Helen Hunt, who also wrote and directed the film) and her wannabe-writer son Angelo (Brenton Thwaites) bicker about punctuation over coffees. And then there’s sun-drenched Venice, California; Angelo skips out college to head there and take up surfing, with Jackie following not far behind. As they hash out their relationship, we also come to understand the contrast between their surface-level, Gilmore-Girls-esque banter and an unexamined trauma destabilising their relationship.
Unfortunately, there’s also a contrast between the film’s intent and Hunt’s execution as director. She has an obvious knack for the job, demonstrated in the way the New York scenes snap comically. And the rapport developed between the cast members is obvious. But Venice just isn’t as appealingly idyllic as it should be. The pacing is more relaxed, certainly, but it lacks the warmth that it needs, the sense of rebirth and relaxation it strives for. Besides, no matter the metaphorical import of Jackie’s surf lessons, there’s only so long you can watch Helen Hunt falling off a surfboard before it becomes tedious.