These reviews are filled to the brim with the dreaded spoilers!
I mean ...why would you read a lengthy review if you wanted to avoid spoilers? Just saying.

REVIEW: Endless Love (2014)

"damned by the existential moment"
Ahh, the summer romance. Is there anything more spectacular?

I'd wager a guess that just about everyone has their own story of an intense romance which was only amplified by the freedom the summer months bring.

"Summer love" is a very relatable story concept, especially when you're older and looking back on it. The ups and downs, the urge to be together whenever possible. It's the topic of the first song in Grease, for crying out loud.

But the funny thing about a summer romance is it's only a really good story when it's your own. When you're on the outside looking in, it's easy to keep a level head and notice all of the things the couple is doing wrong.

The other funny thing about these intense summer romances is they're usually doomed to failure! The 2014 remake of Endless Love (yes, it's ... it's a remake) is such a story.

Jade's family suffered the loss of her oldest brother a few years before the story begins, and of course this means her father, Hugh, will act incredibly protective of the deceased son's bedroom and possessions whenever they're on screen. He's also apparently "pushing" Jade to pursue a career in medicine, following in his footsteps like the son was planning to do. I don't think it's ever said if Jade wanted to get into medicine or not, but she's definitely got a knack for it and has a bright future ahead of her either way. We're also told Jade has been something of a recluse for most of her high school career, and it's made clear from the start she doesn't have any friends her age. Literally none. Her only social partners are her parents.

On the day they graduate from high school, the lower-middle class David stumbles into a conversation with Jade, whom he's been crushing on for the last two years. Over the course of two days (maybe?) they fall into the most intense Teenage True Love ever known. This, the truest of Teenage True Love, meets the disapproval of Hugh, because of course it does.

That's ... pretty much it. Two teens fall hard for each other. They heroically throw caution to the wind as their week-long romance becomes the center of their lives and just can't stand to be apart. It escalates to her passing on an amazing internship and considering postponing going to university so she can stick around and just be with David all the time. Taking a look back at this information, I see the relationship between David and Jade not as an intense, romantic connection made between two lovers, but a Stage-5 Clinger and a guy too blinded by the notion he's dating his crush to notice.

It's already too late.

Of course Hugh doesn't like David being with his daughter, and he goes from trying to convince Jade this relationship just isn't going to work out, to attempts at outright sabotage; even going as far as hiring a private investigator and filing a restraining order on Jade's behalf after she gets into a car accident after the couple gets into an argument over a simple misunderstanding. Also they break into a zoo and manage to get neither mauled nor trampled. No, I'm not going to give any context to that, because the movie doesn't try to justify it whatsoever. It's simply used as a reason for David to get arrested so his "dark past" is revealed and to set up the requisite third-act lover's conflict.

There are quite a number of supporting characters that pop up every now and again but the primary cast is just a boy, a girl and her dad. This trio produces possibly the most uncomfortably acted love triangle I've seen since they decided there still was one after Twilight: New Moon ended.

Half of the movie is just Hugh acting like an ex who is inexplicably still hanging around, becoming jealous that Jade has finally started to move on. He seriously doesn't come off as a protective father looking out for the best interests of his youngest child, and I challenge you to tell me differently. It's one thing to have a father character reacting poorly to his "little girl growing up and not needing him any more," which is what I think he's supposed to be doing, but ... just ... wow.

Now, yes ... the first time Hugh meets David it isn't the best of circumstances (David had just technically stolen a car for a Ferris Bueller-style joyride), but I can't decide if he's trying to sabotage their relationship because he's legitimately concerned she's throwing away a promising career in medicine in favor of spending time with a guy she's known for a few weeks ... or if Hugh thinks David is beneath Jade because he's from the wrong side of the tracks. Or maybe Hugh is jus doesn't like sharing his stuff.

At one point Hugh provokes David into punching him out and tries to spin it like it was a random act of violence, hoping Jade will just break up with David without getting both sides of the story. All I'm saying is, picture Hugh as a 22 year-old with fauxhawk and a polo shirt, and he's suddenly the character he was written to be.

As for our star-crossed lovers, they're just very bland. Jade is a privileged, beautiful young woman whom we're told is shy and bookish. At least that's what we're told. Shortly after we meet her she throws a graduation party, and she's incredibly outgoing and even happy to perform a dance routine in front of a bunch of fellow teenagers as part of a party game. Is that really something a shy introvert does?

When she falls for David, I get the feeling it's not a matter of finding a perfect soul mate (as we're lead to believe) but finding the first person that says he likes her, and not wanting to lose that feeling. I mentioned already how Jade passes on an amazing internship and considers not going to university so she can stick around and just be with David indefinitely. It's trying to suggest she's escaping an unwanted future, showing strength by defying her controlling father's plan and pursuing her own path, but for some reason all I can see is someone who isn't old enough to vote dropping out of something she seems passionate about because her boyfriend isn't going to the same school.

Summer lovin' happened so fast.

I get it! I do. We've all been there. "First Love" is a pain in the ass like that. But it's not like Jade knew David before graduation day. They weren't friends, and it's not like she's been pining over David for years and finally has her chance to be with him! He's just a guy who took her on a joyride in a stolen car and got people to come to a party she was hosting. That's their entire relationship before their first kiss, and I wish I was exaggerating.

I was probably reading too much into the (hopefully) accidental love triangle, but while watching this movie it was all I could think about. Not once does Jade's father actually act like a concerned parent and every conversation he has with or about David plays out like he's engaged in a petty rivalry. Jade becomes a set piece, a trophy to be won by either her boyfriend or her dad. If this is trying to be a story about a girl discovering who she is and what she wants in life, it's drowned out by a pissing contest.

Remember above where I said this is actually a remake? Turns out it was originally made in 1981 (though it was a vastly different story) and was also very poorly received. At time of writing I haven't seen the original but I kinda really want to, if only to see what about it made someone think it warranted a remake. Were they hoping for brand recognition? Did the studio stumble into the rights and it was a "use them or lose them" situation? Is this truly a story so timeless it needed to be seen by a whole new generation, but only if literally everything was different from the source material? Once I find myself a copy we can find out together.

1 comment:

  1. The trailer for this film got tacked on to a couple movies I saw in theaters, so it stuck out in my mind. The way they presented it, it seemed more like the type of film where the boyfriend turns out to be a killer and the dad has to save his little girl. Sounds like they went for a very different kind of creepy instead.