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Review: Endless Love (2014)

Endless Love (2014)

Directed by: Shana Feste

Premise: A remake of the 1981 picture. After their high school graduation, an affluent girl (Gabriella Wilde) and a blue collar boy (Alex Pettyfer) begin a summer romance, but her father intercedes, afraid his daughter will throw away her future.

What Works: Endless Love has some strong relationships between the male lead, played by Alex Pettyfer, and members of the supporting cast, especially his father played by Robert Patrick and his friend played by Dayo Okeniyi. The father and son relationship has a lot of authenticity to it and Robert Patrick delivers the exposition with ease, spelling out the themes for the audience without it coming across too forced. Dayo Okeniyi is cast as the comic sidekick and he injects a lot of humor into the movie, which helps it considerably. The success of every love story depends upon the likability of the couple and although the lead characters of Endless Love are rather bland, Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde are likable enough. These actors are photogenic and they have a romantic rapport that is believable enough to sell the relationship.

What Doesn’t: Endless Love is a not a memorable movie and in many respects it is too safe. The original Endless Love was not a great picture but it was stylish and bold. In the 1981 film the female lead was fifteen years old and the picture captured the passion of young love, even if it was silly and sentimental. Everything about the remake is sanitized and flat. The couple is recast as high school seniors although they are played by actors who are quite obviously in their mid-twenties. There is nothing exciting or passionate about them or their relationship. The movie skips over the courtship in a series of montages and nothing happens that makes the viewer see their love as special. The sexuality of the film has no heat; there is nothing dangerous or exciting about the discovery of sensuality. But the biggest problem of Endless Love is that the central conceit is so flimsy. The drama of love stories is rooted in someone or something keeping the lovers apart but in Endless Love that barrier is built on a false choice. The movie sets up Gabriella Wilde’s character as a young woman of privilege who has just graduated high school and is about to embark on her college career, with the goal of eventually becoming a doctor. Just as she’s about to set off on a summer internship she meets the boy of her dreams, although he is also apparently the only boyfriend she’s ever had. The filmmakers want us to believe that she must choose between a two week internship (and presumably the rest of her life) and a relationship with a guy she’s known for a few days. Anyone who has achieved object permanence can see that Wilde’s character can do her internship, go to college, and keep her man. The weakness of the premise becomes increasingly apparent because the characters of Endless Love keep drawing attention to it. The girl’s father (Bruce Greenwood) obsesses over a dilemma that doesn’t exist which only serves to expose how contrived the story is. Endless Love is also bound to run into resistance from viewers who have any experience in love and relationships. Greenwood’s character continuously points out that high school relationships are shallow and teenagers are naïve about the realities of life and love. The father is right. High school relationships don’t last, teenage lovers have no experience with which to judge matters of the heart, and so the movie is caught up in a fantasy that would be silly if it weren’t so boring. The filmmakers might have overcome that silliness if they fully embraced the mindless idealism that makes young love both obsessive and uniquely pure but the movie is so sterile that it is stuck in a romantic wasteland, absent of passion or logic.

Bottom Line: Endless Love may be a remake of the movie from 1981 but it feels much more like an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel. It has the same contrived plotting, banal characters, and Lifetime movie filmmaking style. Endless Love may not be as absurd as the 1981 film but it is not involving at all.

Episode: #481 (March 9, 2014)