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In Endless Love, Bruce Greenwood plays a dad so bad that all his apprehensions are negated—even if there is truth to them. Unable to put the untimely death of his son behind him, he domineers the lives of his other children, Keith (Rhys Wakefield) and Jade (Gabriella Wilde). He detaches from his marriage leaving his wife Anne (Joely Richardson) pretending to be a devoted wife in a loveless union while he carries on an affair.
In reality Hugh’s (Greenwood) worries would be justified. His daughter Jade has spent all four years of high school with her nose in a book or glued to her parents’ side. Then after graduation, the late bloomer decides to act like a teenager when she falls in love with classmate David Elliot (Alex Pettyfer). In an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet (complete with the balcony scene), this rich-girl and poor-son-of-a-mechanic stay out late, sneak into an establishment after hours to get high, and have sex on the floor of her family’s living room. They call it endless love. But Dad sees trouble written all over the face of the brooding teen boyfriend.
However Alex Pettyfer, at 23, hardly looks like a teen. And while the ethereal Gabriella Wilde could pass for someone much younger than her 24 years, playing these characters as young adults would have made the story more believable—but not necessarily less painful. Unlike the 1981 original of Endless Love starring a young Brooke Shields, this movie doesn’t have the creepy, dark obsessive emotion. It’s sexual passion. Jade’s gauzy, see-through nightgown and the teens’ steamy tryst on the floor confirm this story is more about libido than love.
But when confronted about what could easily be called a summer fling, the star-crossed lovers defend the depth of their infatuation. They spout the kind of arguments you’d expect—silly things like, “all we need is love.” That’s easy to say when you still live at home. And although it’s a beautiful sentiment, it shows this couple hasn’t thought through the realities and responsibilities of a mature union. Unfortunately, this is probably the kind of tale every teen who feels misjudged will embrace. After all, both sets of parents in this movie aren’t exactly models of long-term commitment themselves.
In addition to the sexuality, this script employs profanities (including a strong sexual expletive) and implied illegal drug use. There are also repeated depictions of punching. It’s the way David resolves issues and though he always does it in defense of others, it is still an action that lands him in jail more than once.
Hollywood, as of late, has been obsessed with remakes and reboots. While that worked with Star Trek this remake should have been left unmade. True, there are moments when the characters rise above themselves and show a shred of sensibility. But real wisdom takes time to develop. Maybe somewhere down the road, with a lot of growing up, this unlikely couple could make a go of it. But for the moment, their definition of endless love looks a lot more like inexhaustible lust.
Endless Love is rated PG-13: for sexual content, brief partial nudity, some language and teen partying.
Director: Shana Feste
Cast: Gabriella Wilde, Emma Rigby, Alex Pettyfer, Rhys Wakefield
Studio: 2014 Universal Pictures
Website: Official site for Endless Love.