Hugh Butterfield: Love is wonderful, but it’s not all you need.
Fiery, passionate, lustful, all-consuming love. It is the feverish drug upon which the most timeless songs and stories are built upon. Every year around Valentine’s Day, there is inevitably a new film that is released (or three, in this year’s case) that tries to capture the spark of kismet between two people that erupts into an unforgettable explosion of love. It has been countless years however, since audiences have experienced a movie that fully captured the force of love, and I’m saddened to report that ENDLESS LOVE is the latest in a long string of Valentine’s Day duds.
Loosely based on Scott Spencer’s beloved novel from 1979 (and only lifting the tamest elements from the racy 1981 Franco Zeffirelli movie by the same name), ENDLESS LOVE begins as a very poor man’s SAY ANYTHING. Beautiful, intelligent Jade Butterfield (Gabriella Wilde) has spent her high school years with her nose firmly stuck in her books and with no one but her family members to call friends. At a graduation party, sparks are instantly ignited with fellow graduate, David Elliot (Alex Pettyfer), who, the audience learns in a voiceover, which is quickly abandoned, has been watching her since tenth grade. Despite an impassioned speech of how “love is all you need” to her WASP family over dinner shortly thereafter, David is greatly disliked by Jade’s father, Hugh Butterfield (Bruce Greenwood). Daddy dearest isn’t a fan of the unambitious mechanic and his blue collar father, Harry (Robert Patrick, inexplicably doing a great Martin Sheen impersonation), and quickly uncovers David’s dark tempestuous past. Nothing can stand in the way of true love, however, and Jade’s and David’s is a power with which to be reckoned.
While the original ENDLESS LOVE movie may best be known to select audiences for repeatedly showing a (then-15-year-old) naked Brooke Shields, it was a compulsively watchable (albeit very scandalous) Harlequin-like romance. Its multiple twists and turns read like a V.C. Andrews-penned “Days of our Lives” episode. The plot included David burning Jade’s family’s house down, David being sent to a psychiatric facility and experiencing vivid hallucinations, Jade’s mother seducing David, and, most shocking of all, David almost raping Jade until she confessed her undying love for him. For this remake, screenwriters Shana Feste and Joshua Safran, somewhat understandably, abandon these plot points in favour of a forgettable, cliche ridden snorefest. Lead actress, Wilde (an inferior version of Kate Bosworth), shows immense range with the limited material she’s given, and it’s a shame she’s given wooden leading man, Pettyfer, as her lesser half. The aesthetically well-matched pair look, at most points of the movie, like an Abercrombie and Fitch advertisement brought to life, thanks to the lazy direction of Feste. Endless love? More like movie that couldn’t have ended quickly enough.