Reviews - Major Releases


Film Review: Endless Love

Endless Love is so updated it’s scarcely a remake of the 1981 film, and bears only a superficial resemblance to the novel on which both are based. With its title, though, it sends an invitation to compare. Don’t RSVP, because it’s really just name-dropping.

Feb 13, 2014

-By Marsha McCreadie


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1394118-Endless_Love_md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Touted as an explosive, even destructive exploration of a romantic obsession thwarted, Endless Love, with current heartthrobs Gabrielle Wilde and Alex Pettyfer, is instead a Hallmark-card version of arson, death, sex obsession and Freudian love-hate. With its upbeat feel and Hollywood-style ending, and sunny Atlanta subbing for serious Hyde Park, Illinois, this may seem right for its Valentine’s Day opening. But it’s all wrong for an adaptation of the best-selling, cleverly written and dark novel by Scott Spencer.

Both book and earlier film were told from the point of view of David Axelrod, explaining the power of first love when the flame doesn’t go out. It sears all who come close, especially parents when they try to squelch it. The movie got mixed reviews, yet the male lead, the whatever-happened-to Martin Hewitt, conveyed the smoldering intensity of David. Brooke Shields as Jade was both dewy-eyed and sensual at the same time. And got a career launch from the film. But this time out, it’s not “together again.”

Pettyfer ( Magic Mike) plays it as too much of a nice guy for scary obsessions, and Wilde (most recently seen in Carrie and The Three Musketeers) is an icy ingénue. The conflict in this film is about social class: This princess is too good for the valet car parker from the underclass, working in his dad’s auto shop. The main question is not how to contain their mutual attraction, but if Jade, who has just graduated from high school, will go on to college or get stuck with the local townie.

As a movie standing on its own, Endless Love is silly and trumped up, though it may do something for tween girls dreaming over Pettyfer. Or guys obsessing about the perfect blonde in their high-school class. As David’s sidekick says, “A girl who looks like that, has that much dough, can’t be real.” Sometimes she doesn’t seem so.

This Endless Love does reflect the current zeitgeist. The 1981 movie had a fascinating portrayal of a progressive, hippy-dippy family, Jade’s folks, whose liberal ways are tested by their daughter’s open affair with David. This film is focused on the gap between the wealthy Butterfields—Jade’s dad is a successful doctor—and the less privileged, including David. Crossing that gulf is a bigger deal than figuring out how to handle love and sex spiraling out of control.

Jade’s dad Hugh, who does everything he can to break up the pair, is played by Bruce Greenwood in an over-the-top manner, though some of this is built into his role. The real weakness is Joely Richardson in the mom part taken by Shirley Knight in the first film. Knight conveyed her character’s romanticism and frustrated sexuality as well as her bohemian sensibility. She doesn’t deny her attraction for David, but is still devoted to her daughter. Richardson just seems kind and ineffective, a mother-knows-best, trying to chill out Dad.

Unwittingly, the film drives home the unexpected power of a signature song for a romantic movie. You may have giggled to first hear Lionel Richie’s “Endless Love” in the first film. But it stuck in your mind, and stitched together the movie. There’s nothing like that to provide “sweep” here.

In making their film more cheery, director Shana Feste ( Country Strong) and co-writer Joshua Safran sacrifice the novel’s disturbing power. Instead, we get yet one more feel-good teen romance, with requisite parties where recent high-school grads can show off their skills in dance routines. That’s not what we signed up for.


Film Review: Endless Love

Endless Love is so updated it’s scarcely a remake of the 1981 film, and bears only a superficial resemblance to the novel on which both are based. With its title, though, it sends an invitation to compare. Don’t RSVP, because it’s really just name-dropping.

Feb 13, 2014

-By Marsha McCreadie


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1394118-Endless_Love_md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Touted as an explosive, even destructive exploration of a romantic obsession thwarted, Endless Love, with current heartthrobs Gabrielle Wilde and Alex Pettyfer, is instead a Hallmark-card version of arson, death, sex obsession and Freudian love-hate. With its upbeat feel and Hollywood-style ending, and sunny Atlanta subbing for serious Hyde Park, Illinois, this may seem right for its Valentine’s Day opening. But it’s all wrong for an adaptation of the best-selling, cleverly written and dark novel by Scott Spencer.

Both book and earlier film were told from the point of view of David Axelrod, explaining the power of first love when the flame doesn’t go out. It sears all who come close, especially parents when they try to squelch it. The movie got mixed reviews, yet the male lead, the whatever-happened-to Martin Hewitt, conveyed the smoldering intensity of David. Brooke Shields as Jade was both dewy-eyed and sensual at the same time. And got a career launch from the film. But this time out, it’s not “together again.”

Pettyfer (Magic Mike) plays it as too much of a nice guy for scary obsessions, and Wilde (most recently seen in Carrie and The Three Musketeers) is an icy ingénue. The conflict in this film is about social class: This princess is too good for the valet car parker from the underclass, working in his dad’s auto shop. The main question is not how to contain their mutual attraction, but if Jade, who has just graduated from high school, will go on to college or get stuck with the local townie.

As a movie standing on its own, Endless Love is silly and trumped up, though it may do something for tween girls dreaming over Pettyfer. Or guys obsessing about the perfect blonde in their high-school class. As David’s sidekick says, “A girl who looks like that, has that much dough, can’t be real.” Sometimes she doesn’t seem so.

This Endless Love does reflect the current zeitgeist. The 1981 movie had a fascinating portrayal of a progressive, hippy-dippy family, Jade’s folks, whose liberal ways are tested by their daughter’s open affair with David. This film is focused on the gap between the wealthy Butterfields—Jade’s dad is a successful doctor—and the less privileged, including David. Crossing that gulf is a bigger deal than figuring out how to handle love and sex spiraling out of control.

Jade’s dad Hugh, who does everything he can to break up the pair, is played by Bruce Greenwood in an over-the-top manner, though some of this is built into his role. The real weakness is Joely Richardson in the mom part taken by Shirley Knight in the first film. Knight conveyed her character’s romanticism and frustrated sexuality as well as her bohemian sensibility. She doesn’t deny her attraction for David, but is still devoted to her daughter. Richardson just seems kind and ineffective, a mother-knows-best, trying to chill out Dad.

Unwittingly, the film drives home the unexpected power of a signature song for a romantic movie. You may have giggled to first hear Lionel Richie’s “Endless Love” in the first film. But it stuck in your mind, and stitched together the movie. There’s nothing like that to provide “sweep” here.

In making their film more cheery, director Shana Feste (Country Strong) and co-writer Joshua Safran sacrifice the novel’s disturbing power. Instead, we get yet one more feel-good teen romance, with requisite parties where recent high-school grads can show off their skills in dance routines. That’s not what we signed up for.
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