‘Endless Love’: Her hair’s the only thing that’s bright
By BRUCE INGRAM For Sun-Times Media February 13, 2014 6:02PM
The new love between David, a working-class mechanic’s son (Alex Pettyfer), and Jade, a rich honor student (Gabriella Wilde), is threatened by his secrets in “Endless Love.” | UNIVERSAL PHOTOS
‘Endless Love’ ★★
David Elliot Alex Pettyfer
Jade Butterfield Gabriella Wilde
Hugh Butterfield Bruce Greenwood
Anne Butterfield Joely Richardson
Universal Pictures presents a film directed by Shana Feste and written by Joshua Safran and Feste. Running time: 103 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for sexual content, brief partial nudity, some language and teen partying). Opens Friday at local theaters.
Updated: March 15, 2014 6:13AM
A triple dose of true romance and tortured melodrama for tween-age girls, the hyper-emotional “Endless Love” is likely to seem truly endless for just about anyone else.
Meaning it’s the perfect way to test a boyfriend’s mettle on Valentine’s Day.
A remake of the 1981 heart-throbber starring Brooke Shields (which according to reports was considerably darker and weirder), the new “Endless Love” features Gabriella Wilde and Alex Pettyfer as star-crossed teen lovers thwarted by a disapproving dad. He apparently has forgotten that didn’t work out well in “Romeo and Juliet.”
Young Jade is rich, beautiful, sweet, demure and ... did I mention rich and beautiful? She has also been too busy mourning the death of her golden-boy older brother Chris to think about boys during high school. Oh, and she’s also an honor student heading for pre-med at Brown University.
Young David is the smart, sensitive, square-jawed, broad-shouldered guy who parks cars at her country club. Too nice to be a bad boy, but definitely from the wrong side of the tracks, he plans to stay home and work in his mechanic dad’s garage instead of going to college. Jade’s heart-surgeon father (Bruce Greenwood) really, really hates him.
After graduation, David (who previously had only dared worship from afar) makes Jade’s acquaintance at her party on the family estate and, within hours, bashful smiles lead to an erotic clinch in front of Dad’s fireplace — all very tastefully and teasingly suggested. It’s love, true love, and Jade bounds joyfully across her grounds like a gazelle in celebration. No kidding, she seriously does. Both David and Dad have guilty secrets, though, and increasingly traumatic trials lie ahead.
Co-written and directed by Shana Feste, who also souped up the soap opera in “Country Strong” (2011) and “The Greatest” (2009), “Endless Love” rolls along pretty capably for the first hour or so. If fact, if you’re willing to take the cliché-riddled plot as a mildly painful given, it almost starts to seem admirable for delivering precisely what its target audience expects. Then those guilty secrets start to pop up and the tragic developments lurch from fraught to overwrought before a finale that’s pure, off-the-hook hysteria.
Of course, that doesn’t mean there can’t still be a happily-ever-after. Love may or may not be endless, but there’s no limit to what can be contrived in a movie like this.