Helen Hunt’s new film about motherhood and surfing, Ride, opens today in select theaters and is available for download on iTunes and Amazon. We had the pleasure of attending the premiere this week and, needless to say, fell madly in love with the film. What’s not to like? The film features one of our favorite actresses, the dreamy Luke Wilson, and Australian hottie Benton Thwaites. Hunt wrote, directed, and stars in the film about a dysfunctional mother-son relationship set against the backdrop of sunny Southern California surf.
The trailer sets you up for the plot: overprotective mother follows her son across the country after he drops out of college to pursue writing—and more immediately—surfing. Hunt’s uptight character, Jackie, decides to get in the water herself to see what all the fuss is about. It should come as no surprise to surfers that the ocean becomes a transformative experience for both of them.
The story is sweet, funny, and truly touching at times (I cried), but it also shows just how hard it is to learn to surf. Most films show a few rough outings, then suddenly the main character is shredding like the pros. Poor Hunt takes some serious wipe-outs for her role of Jackie. It makes us remember our early days in the water. Another fun thing is that it is set in our ‘hood, featuring many of the surf spots and local shops we frequent in Venice Beach.
Hunt also explores the complexities of motherhood, and all that comes with it: love, attachment, guilt and, ultimately, the ability to let go.
We had the exciting opportunity to ask Helen Hunt a few questions about her new film.
Surf Like a Girl: What made you choose surfing as the film’s backdrop?
Helen Hunt: I created this cranky, uptight, controlling character and thought, Where would she be most miserable on earth? Answer: On a surfboard.
Surf Like a Girl: Tell us about your first surfing experience.
Helen Hunt: My first surf lesson was such a misery. I got out of the water with tears in my throat muttering, “Never again, never again.” Later I thought, anything that freaks me out this much is something I should do again and something I should write about.
Surf Like a Girl: What did you learn about surfing while filming?
Helen Hunt: That more hours in the water makes you braver. That when you are in the ambitious head you need to be in to direct a movie, you are much less afraid of being smashed by big waves.
Surf Like a Girl: How have you integrated surfing into your lifestyle?
Helen Hunt: I just get in the water whenever I can. I boogie board a lot. So fun. So fun without nine feet of fiberglass near you. I love to surf, stand-up paddle, boogie board, dog paddle… whatever I can do.