Blu-ray Review: Endless Love (2014)

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Writer-director Shana Feste’s Endless Love remake moves even further away from Scott Spencer’s disturbing source novel than the much-maligned original 1981 Brooke Shields-starring version. In fact, it’s pretty much a remake in name only, an attempt to capitalize on whatever relatively low name-value remains in a mostly forgotten relic. The updated Endless Love is available on Blu-ray on May 27 (the Digital HD version is already available for download).

Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde are blandly attractive leads, playing recent high school grads David and Jade (respectively). They begin an affair, characterized by puppy love passion, while Jade’s father Hugh (Bruce Greenwood) looks on disapprovingly. David comes from a working class background and is seen as not good enough for someone from the wealthy Butterfield family. Jade’s mom Anne (Joely Richardson) is more accepting, recognizing that David seems to be a decent guy who is working very hard to gain Hugh’s approval.

Endless Love 2 (380x253).jpgThere’s no reason to reveal too much of the plot, since there aren’t all that many developments in the first place. Suffice it to say that David has a somewhat shady past (it’s meant to seem complicated, but in reality it’s pretty straightforward), which Hugh seeks to expose in hopes of turning Jade against him. Hugh’s no angel himself, making him quite an obvious hypocrite—something David struggles with once he discovers Hugh’s secret infidelity. Meanwhile, Jade makes some dumb choice of her own (no one forces her to sneak into a closed zoo with David and friends, for instance) but her father is intent on blaming David’s influence. Anyone who has seen a few teen romance flicks will see every plot turn a mile in advance.

Much of the predictability could’ve alleviated by compelling performances, but unfortunately there’s nothing here but wallpaper. Only Greenwood seems interested in investing his role with palpable passion. Robert Patrick is entirely wasted in the small, thankless role of David’s father. Another element sorely missing is humor, represented only by David’s buddy Mace (Dayo Okeniyi). The problem is that Okeniyi is embarrassingly treated as nothing more than a token wisecracking minority character, given nothing to work with but lame rejoinders. A subplot involving David’s jealous ex is left largely unexplored. Nothing comes together in what is ultimately a weightless endeavor, all the more disappointing given that the luridly twisted nature of the original novel could’ve made a striking film.

Endless Love 3 (380x253).jpgFrom a technical standpoint, Universal’s Blu-ray delivers the picture and sound expected of a recent studio film. Andrew Dunn’s cinematography is presented with city and nuance. The lush Georgia shooting locations look terrific. As for the audio, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is perfect without being especially exciting. Dialogue fidelity is of the utmost importance to a talky film like Endless Love and there are simply no problems in this area. Christophe Beck’s score is often mixed quite prominently, providing a welcome distraction from the banal dialogue.

Endless Love 4 (380x253).jpgSpecial features include a fairly typical “making of” piece, a slightly extended ending, and a half-hour of deleted, alternate, and extended scenes. The package also includes a standard DVD and UltraViolet digital copy.

A romance in which the central relationship is totally unconvincing isn’t likely to move many people. That’s unfortunately the case with the 2014 update of Endless Love, a film that would’ve at least been more interesting had it stuck to the source material that inspired it.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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