“They run through flowery meadows together, swim in a large lake, playfully tease one another, and hang out constantly. The overall effect feels as if we’re watching cheap vacation videos of two people we really don’t care at all about.”
The trailer for Endless Love has got to be one of the most haunting trailers for a romantic movie I have yet to see. Between the events unfolding, which range from shocking verbal violence, to fighting, to deeply-involving scenes of love and passion, and the incredible ballad ‘Addicted to Love’ by Florence + The Machine, the trailer is nothing shy of a unique sensory experience that provokes both chills and warmness.
Is that song in the movie? Of course not, as trailers that seem to always find the perfect song for the movie’s subject matter and themes and exclude it from the final product. But even if Addicted to Love had made it into Endless Love, I doubt its impact would’ve been very noteworthy. In the recent line of romance films that detail young couples falling in love with baggage and drama plaguing their relationship, this one takes the cake for being the worst.
The film is an affront to romance films that really try to make us get to know their characters such as Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy. Instead,Endless Love gives us a male lead who has a poorer background, a female lead with a more lavish background, and a cold-hearted, protective father who definitely has his reasons. These characteristics are all we have to define these shallow, grating characters and their personalities.
We focus on Jade (Gabriella Wilde), an innocent young woman who has just graduated high school and is trying to get over the tragic death of her brother. Her father Hugh (Bruce Greenfield, easily the strongest performance in the film) is also very protective of his daughter, willing to do anything to protect her so she does not get hurt and assures that she is mentally stable and taken care of as she tries to put aside thoughts of this tragedy. Jade eventually meets David (Alex Pettyfer), a local-area boy who offers her companionship and a refreshing outlet of daring behavior to her life, but also can keep her company and romanticize with her like few others. They click from the start and this angers Hugh, who tries to keep the two apart from each other and dive into David’s past to hopefully uncover something detrimental to his life that will make his daughter see what a lowlife he actually is.
The film plays like last year’s Valentine’s Day offering Safe Haven, except that this time the male character has baggage and the female one has a domineering father. The film turns into agonizingly tedious bickering between all parties punctuated by equally agonizing scenes that depict a mercifully unrealistic montage of how Jade and David choose to spend their time together. They run through flowery meadows together, swim in a large lake, playfully tease one another, and hang out constantly. The overall effect feels as if we’re watching cheap vacation videos of two people we really don’t care at all about.
Furthermore, the inconsistencies pile up in the film almost faster than you can count. For one, when David deflowers Jade, he illogically does it in her own home where her parents are sleeping nearby and by a fireplace. This wouldn’t be so unbelievable if the scene didn’t take place in Georgia in the middle of the summer while it is raining heavily. Logic and basic setting-comprehension would tell you it must be at least in the high-eighties or nineties and they’re having such an adrenaline-testing event as sex in front of a fireplace during this heat?
To add to the inanity, an airport is seen later in the film but it’s the most unbelievable airport you will ever see. The film looks like an airport terminal was built inside a lavish office of Goldman Sachs. The carpeting is dark red, there are no signs of terminals, and the scene is conducted like the filmmakers, the cast, and crew are interrupting another day at the office for many suits. Many will immediately jump on me and say I’m nitpicking, but if the cloyingly gooey relationship wasn’t enough to bother a soul, the glaring questions and sequences that arouse from obscure little directing and locational choices most definitely will. And don’t get me started on the way the film feels the need to blast its oppressive score to emphasize the unrealistic drama unfolding on screen.
Endless Love could also be accused of sending the oh-so wonderful message to teen girls that being a good girl, who stays out of the drama and the main-scene is boring and trivial, where embracing a life of danger, risk, and adventure is the only way one could even say they’re living life to the fullest. In the day and age where some of the most loathsome people are glorified yet looked up to as role-models, this message is the last one you want to send out to teen girls, and if you do, there needs to be strong support for your argument. A relationship that consistently feels like little more than a fling or something to forget a sad event in ones life is hardly an argument.
Finally, the film is totally in line for what I call “love propaganda,” or films that show the only way someone could be complete in life is if they have someone to cling to and embrace the goofiness of a relationship with. It’s strange to note how come we criticize female leads in, say, Disney movies for always appearing like they need to have a prince in their life, but we casually praise and flock to see the latest Nicolas Sparks adaptation and read the latest teen romance novel, adoring it and wishing we lead a relationship in line with one similar to what is portrayed in that kind of material. The whole idea drives me to a neverending point of insanity.
Review by Steve Pulaski, Lead Film Critic