Film Review: Endless Love

Romantic remake is all corn, no substance.

Feb 19, 2014 at 12:00 am
Film Review: Endless Love
Courtesy photo.

Endless Love | C

Young, beautiful idiots are always falling hopelessly in love, and teen romance is the ultimate renewable resource. A fresh crop of kids comes along every few years, foolishly believing that they are the only generation to experience the agonies and ecstasies of first lust. There is precious little chance that the target audience for this sappy soap will have even a residual knowledge of the gauzy, softcore Brooke Shields cultural artifact from 1981, which is now best remembered for the mega-cheesy Lionel Richie-Diana Ross smash hit duet on the soundtrack. Apparently someone still owned the copyright, and so for no good reason we get a sanitized update of Franco Zeffirelli’s trashy psychosexual melodrama, with any hint of kinky stuff expunged in favor of a more marketable PG-13 rating.

Neither adaptation is terribly faithful to Scott Spencer’s novel, but it’s heresy to expect modern audiences to have actually read a plot synopsis, let alone a musty old paperback. The source material and the original movie were about all-consuming passion, mental illness and the tragic vanishing point between carnal desire and spiritual connection. This 2014 edition, courtesy Shana Feste (Country Strong), is about a pair of very attractive dimwits who enjoy rubbing their genitals together, but are occasionally kept apart by plot contrivances and class war anxiety.

A lifelike human replica with absurdly symmetrical features called Gabriella Wilde plays Jade Butterfield, a dewy, porcelain fragile Southern debutante with a whispery speaking voice that lacks the merest trace of a Georgian twang. We are led to believe that Jade is such a scholarly, withdrawn wallflower that’s never been kissed, because cover-model gorgeous blondes with perfect skin and full lips are never, ever popular in high school. On graduation day, it dawns on her that she might want some friends, and she luckily stumbles into a wall of handsome flesh named David Elliot (Alex Pettyfer), who is well liked by his classmates despite having the crippling deformity of a grubby, blue-collar background. Turns out he’s been silently crushing on her for years, and he’s totally into hot, rich chicks, so this is all going to work out. Their passion crosses the tracks and then hits the sheets, as they engage in the most idealized — in no way awkward — deflowering sequence ever seen outside of a seventh grader’s dream journal. 

The only snag is that Jade’s manically domineering surgeon father (Bruce Greenwood) has other plans for her, and intends to send her off for a summer internship before her Ivy league education commences in the fall. A string of clichéd mishaps and misunderstandings pad out the running time, which mercifully isn’t all that long.  

At least the cast is strong: Greenwood is a terrific actor, but he’s saddled with a role that starts as a believably protective father, and ends up being a wrathful villain who seems moments away from unveiling his plans for a death-ray. Joely Richardson and Robert Patrick are solid as the other parents; fresh-faced Dayo Okeniyi gets some laughs as David’s sidekick. The original sported promising newcomers like James Spader, Jami Gertz and Tom Cruise; here, some of the bit players are laughably awful. Pettyfer (Magic Mike) has charisma, though his character is so boringly noble and idealistic there’s not much for him to latch on to, especially since the blandly lovely Wilde has all the gravitas of a dandelion puff. They’re nice to look at, but this is not a romance that will last forever, or even past the end credits. 

Endless Love is rated PG-13 and runs 105 minutes.