Endless Love (2014)

Endless LoveIt’s graduation, and Jade Butterfield (Gabriella Wilde) has about as many friends now as she did on the first day of high school. En route to a celebratory dinner with her family — father Hugh (Bruce Greenwood), mother Anne (Joely Richardson) and brother Keith (Rhys Wakefield) — she runs into valets and one-time classmates David (Alex Pettyfer) and Mace (Dayo Okeniyi) — the former of whom just happens to have unaired feelings for her — and she eventually works up enough courage to ask for her first yearbook signature. Jade and David begin dating, much to the disapproval of her dad; Jade has spent her school days studying to become a doctor, and Hugh fears that first love might get in the way of his daughter’s future in medicine. His worries aren’t shared by either Anne or Keith, however, both of whom take to David immediately, glad to finally have some life back in the house for the first time since third sibling Chris (Patrick Johnson) died from cancer.

It becomes clear early on that Shana Feste’s Endless Love, the second adaptation of Scott Spencer’s novel of the same name after Franco Zeffirelli’s 1981 effort, is going to live up to its title. As the camera scans the bustling campus you find yourself hoping, willing that it will settle on anyone but Gabriella Wilde’s instantly forgettable Jade. The film bears more in common with Twilight than either the source material or previous film, both of which at least boasted some semblance of agency on the part of both male and female protagonist; this unbelievably bland remake does away with the edgier age difference, psychotic tendencies and prison sentences which sought to tie those previous incarnations of the story to reality, instead serving up yet another dose of completely inconsequential Young Adult fluff — all sulky stares and bitten lips. Pettyfer’s David may not be a sparkly vampire, but post-Magic Mike and aged 23 he’s no love-bitten teenager either.

That the romance is insufferable is par for the course, but what really sets Endless Love apart from the rest is the staggeringly inane string of incidents standing in for actual plot. The joyride is an early low-point, but is quickly topped by a second act (or maybe it was third act, it’s almost impossible to remember) outing to the zoo. When David and Jade conveniently happen across Mace near the Butterfield summer home (which is apparently far enough away from the school to satisfy Hugh’s need for distance), they are lured into the zoo on the promise of drugs and alcohol. Instead, they spend a few minutes being showered by elephants and riding the carousel after hours before being chased away by police. It’s not even melodrama; the characters get out of all sorts of unlikely scrapes without once showing any sign of injury or hurt beyond crocodile tears and near-immediate forgiveness. When everything catches fire for the finale you’re too uninvolved in the characters and story even to cringe.

That’s not to say that there aren’t elements that don’t deserve at least a little praise. Outside of the love triangle (which also includes Emma Rigby as its third point, and that in true Endless Love fashion isn’t really a love triangle, just another pointless, timewasting misunderstanding), there are rather remarkably some half-decent performances. Robert Patrick appears as Pettyfer’s father, and his sole scene with Greenwood’s Hugh is one of the film’s most successful. Wakefield is perfectly likeable as the Butterfield’s resident underachiever, and even manages to sell a scene in which he instigates a game of “choreography” among improbably polite high school students. The most interesting character by far, however, is Richardson’s Anne. A published novelist who never made it to book two, Anne is desperate to move on from her son’s death, something her husband seems completely unable to do. It’s ultimately revealed that Hugh has been unfaithful to her, and it’s to the film’s further detriment that it never bothers to reveal this information to the only person on screen who might actually do something about it.

It’s because of films like Endless Love that remakes have earned the name that they have; not only does the film ignore the opportunity to improve upon a film that was almost universally panned, but it sets out to make a completely different, but equally unremarkable movie instead. This is a film that actively avoids conflict, propagating passivity at each and every opportunity. It really is just endless love — unconditional and thoroughly undramatic.

1.5-Stars

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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