“Endless Love”: not endless, not love

Photo+courtesy+of+Universal

Photo courtesy of Universal

By Elizabeth Dye

Shots of two insanely attractive teenagers wrapped around each other’s bodies with their tongues navigating each other’s mouths; slow motion scenes of them running around scantily clad in water-soaked swimsuits; a glimpse of the pair holding hands while jumping off a pier into a lake; and a shot of them sharing a bubble bath together against a backdrop of dim light cascading from a bathroom window. 

These are the scenes that indicate that the two main characters in the film share an “endless love,” like the title so suggests.

But, from the sky blue graduation gowns worn in the opening scene, to the alarming and distracting older appearances of the actors playing high school-aged teens, the film “Endless Love” lacked believability, with the above scenes making the film feeling less like a romance movie, and more like a lengthy advertisement for a sensual perfume campaign.

“Endless Love,” an adaptation of Scott Spencer’s 1979 novel of the same name and remake of Franco Zeffirelli’s 1981 film, was released this Valentine’s Day, tagged as two young lovers who “say goodbye to innocence.” 

The lovers in question are Jade Butterfield (played by Gabriella Wilde), a rich girl who spent her whole high school career sheltered at home with her parents after the loss of her brother, and David Elliot (played by Alex Pettyfer), a mechanic’s son who has had eyes for Butterfield since the 10th grade. The two have just graduated high school, and after a few conversations, much to the chagrin of her overbearing, protective father, the pair becomes instantly inseparable.

Apart from their obvious physical attraction, little else explains why the duo shares such intense passions for each other. The most David really had to say about Jade was, “I think she’s amazing.” This generic line seemed to prove how little he really knew about her, considering the two spent more time kissing in scenes than they ever did discussing their lives, making the connection past their physical one hard to understand or believe.

The director of the film, Shana Feste, must have thought the best way to translate the love of a 17 year old on the screen is to show her dancing or running around, considering the amount of scenes included in which Jade spends flailing her gangly limbs.

What makes the arm flailing worse is Wilde’s acting while doing so. Wilde very much appears to be an older actor trying to act like the younger, 17-year-old character that she plays. This becomes all the more evident in her character’s wardrobe and hair choices: random variations of small braids and Converse All Star Sneakers with almost every outfit.

The acting in the movie doesn’t get much better apart from Wilde’s. Every line delivered seemed to come out strained or forced. The only saving grace in the film was the acting by talented newcomer Rhys Wakefield, who portrayed Jade’s lighthearted yet rebellious older brother, Keith Butterfield.

In addition, the characters seemed all too typical. David’s token best black friend cracked jokes and sang for comedic relief, a sidekick role, all too overplayed in Hollywood blockbusters. Jade’s dad, Hugh Butterfield (played by Bruce Greenwood), exhibited little dimension, other than anger and unexplainable condescending behavior toward David. 

Alex Pettyfer may have seemed the most unnatural playing his character’s role, with even a scene where he displays his actual English accent in such a strained manner, that it feels like he’s even faking his natural voice. 

Moreover, the scenarios in the film seemed to escalate too quickly and almost forced into the film to add more suspense or move the film along, causing the entire movie to seem artificial and contrived. Take, for example, the bewildering shift Jade takes from a naive high school virgin to sex fiend within a matter of days.

In reality, the film became less of a movie about everlasting love and more about how the loss of a son turns a father into a villain, aiming to prevent the love David brings to his family. 

But one thing is for sure: Most audiences will find that “Endless Love” brought much more than love to screens this Valentine’s Day.

Elizabeth is a freshman in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]