Endless Love took its sweet, sweet time before screening for press. And then once it eventually screened, it really did never seem to end.
Critic's Grade: DEndless Love
is 2014’s first contribution to the catalog of sexed-up tweenie love dramas, and in all its idealistic idiocracy and over-the-top affirmations of “soul mates,” it best serves as a reminder that Hollywood has completely lost grip on what a normal relationship actually looks like.
Shana Feste’s remake of the 1981 Brooke Shields flop—which is itself based on Scott Spencer’s well-received novel of the same name—depicts the star-crossed romance between nerdy “outcast” Jade Butterfield (Gabriella Wilde) and rough-around-the-edges David Axelrod (Alex Pettyfer). Their love is imperiled by Jade’s strict father, who viciously attempts to keep the two apart. But while the original Endless Love spun a dark, psychosexual tale blurring the lines between obsession and mental illness, that allure is wholly absent from Feste’s adaptation, which is equal parts sugarcoated and watered-down.
A flurry of blandly predictable scenes (slow-motion jogs through grassy fields set to an indie soundtrack, dramatic reunions in an airport, consummations of love by a roaring fireplace) chase down romance so doggedly that they run it straight out of the film. There is also a car crash (yawn), a house set on fire (seen it before), rides on a carousel (please…just please), and a Romeo and Juliet-esque balcony scene that ends with Jade throwing David a paper airplane, on which is a written invitation to get it on.
These moments all occur in rapid succession over the course of 102 minutes, leaving little room for stuff of substance. They got the “endless” part right in the title, but “love” is too grossly misunderstood to resonate with anyone other than the teenage target audience (a script that was appropriately co-written by Joshua Safran, of Gossip Girl fame).
Bruce Greenwood offers the most compelling performance as Hugh Butterfield, Jade’s rigid father who channels his grief over a deceased son into maintaining an iron grip on the rest of his family. The icy patriarch slowly unravels as his attempts to squash David become increasingly erratic, and his absolution at the film’s conclusion serves as the only significant character arc in the might-as-well-be-endless 102-minute running time. Greenwood’s unnaturally orange skin tone, moreover, strengthened my hypothesis—already shored up by Mitt Romney and the cast of Jersey Shore—that there is nothing more sinister than a man on a power trip with a bad spray tan.