It stars an Eastwood, a Huston and a Chaplin, but this latest Nicholas Sparks adaptation is far from a Hollywood great

The Longest Ride is a Nicholas Sparks romance, adapted from another of his bestselling if virtually interchangeable novels, and the tenth to reach the screen since Message in a Bottle (1998). Like them all, it's about inheritance and accidents of fate. Since they are all near-obliged to contain scenes of beautiful half-naked people jumping off piers joyfully into lakes, it has those, too.

But the most interesting thing about the movie is the DNA of its cast. Three out of four of the film’s young leads are scions of industry legends, whose names call up an entire century’s history of filmmaking. Eastwood. Huston. Chaplin. These are trochees to conjure with, even if the film’s not totally sure what spell it’s trying to cast.

In the present-day scenes, a ridiculously handsome cowboy called Luke (Scott Eastwood, Clint’s son) clings to fame on the professional bull-riding circuit in North Carolina. If you want to stick a guy in tight jeans and a cowboy hat, and have him come calling at a sorority house with a bunch of flowers, you might as well make him an Eastwood. And this is a great Eastwood, unmistakably his father’s son, with the squint a work in progress. He softly undersells his biggest line – “It’s my life” – and you’re instantly struck by what an honest moment of acting it is.

Flashing back to a humdrum vision of the 1930s, we meet eternal sweethearts Ira (Jack Huston, John’s grandson) and Viennese émigrée Ruth (Oona Chaplin, Charlie’s granddaughter, and also the great-granddaughter of Eugene O’Neill). Huston has been paying his dues in nothingy Brit-flicks for years, but he’s touching, uxorious, and very sweet in this part, and gets moving close-ups. Chaplin has to approximate an Austrian accent by saying “unt” occasionally, but she has mystique and attitude to spare, and wide, expressive features which go a long way to pumping up the drama.

If only for reasons of unfamous parentage, you feel a bit sorry for Tomorrowland’s Britt Robertson, but she gets to be Luke’s girlfriend and jump into lakes with him, so that's something. Her character’s ambitions in the art world inevitably clash with Luke’s eight-second stints becoming a titan in the bull ring: we’ve all been there.

Director George Tillman Jr (Men of Honor) does a more than respectable job with his actors, and a really grisly one with the film’s entire look and flow. It’s no The Notebook, and when that’s a seriously meant criticism, you’re in trouble. The biggest issue with The Longest Ride, as we dash back and forth dreaming up yet more obstacles to true love, is a title that honestly needs at least four more “O”s in it.