The frequently reproduced story of star-crossed lovers makes for a comfortable film, if that’s all it aims to be, but not much more. With an attractive cast and a cinematically easy-to-follow recipe passed down from one low ambition director to the next, “Endless Love” has come straight from the young-adult cookie-cutter.
Directed by Shana Feste, this modern remake of a 1981 film, also adapted from a novel of the same name, follows a difficult yet unrelenting romance between two young adults. Jade Butterfield (Gabriella Wilde) spent much of her late adolescence mourning the loss of her older brother and preparing for a career following in her father’s footsteps. She in turn neglects a social life with her peers. Despite missing out on a typical teenage experience, Jade holds back her dissatisfaction and even the inclination to rebel. A classmate, David Elliot (Alex Pettyfer), who not so secretly admires Jade, gives her the means to come of age. Jade’s strict father adamantly disapproves of David and does everything in his power to keep the two apart. Jade eventually gains the confidence to make her own decisions – against her father’s will.
The film had a clear yet predictable direction as the characters re-enact scenes that are all too common in its genre. The balcony exchange reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, the shared bicycle ride through the park, and the secret rendezvous in the library are wearily familiar components of the box-office formula – but production companies know what the audience wants. If not for mere entertainment, romantic films at least fulfill the fantasies of a perfect romance.
Portraying this inseparable couple, Wilde and Pettyfer demonstrate their roles with conviction, but their less demanding character types display little insight into these up-and-coming actors’ potential. The generic storyline offered a narrow view of the characters, aside from seemingly superficial interest. Despite the structure of the film however, the actors were alluring within the limits of their script, from their flirtatious gestures to heartfelt tears.
As a result, the supporting characters ended up stealing the spotlight from the good but not spectacular leading roles. Jade’s supportive and easygoing younger brother, Keith Butterfield (Rhys Wakefield) brings life into the stagnant storyline with personality and emotional composure. Struggling with conflicts of his own, Keith reveals a depth of character beyond the typical “outgoing guy” persona. While clearly not a comedic picture, other supporting characters lighten the otherwise heavy mood of the story. David’s friend Mace (Dayo Okeniyi) is one of the few characters given latitude with humour.
Like the original adaptation’s fame for its theme song rather than groundbreaking cinematography, the most notable feature of this film is its diverse, indie soundtrack featuring songs from Tegan and Sara, Cults, and Franz Ferdinand.
Endless Love is in UK cinemas from 14 February