Endless Love (Alex Pettyfer/Gabriella Wilde) - DVD Review
Review by Rob Carnevale
SHANA Feste’s remake of Endless Love is a useful barometer of how a great actor can rise above the most mundane material and someone still learning his craft can be found wanting.
For while veteran character actor Bruce Greenwood manages to pull out a fully rounded, even emotionally engaging performance from a stereotypical role, Alex Pettyfer goes through the motions without adding anything special. But even he cannot save the tedious and predictable film this becomes.
Feste’s film is actually a vastly different affair from Franco Zefferelli’s 1981 romance (starring Brooke Shields and a very young Tom Cruise in a minor role) in that it’s a lot more optimistic about love. Sadly, this also means it’s a lot more formulaic in many ways.
The story follows David (Pettyfer) as he falls for his college sweetheart Jade (Gabriella Wilde) and begins an affair that immediately falls foul of her well-to-do father Hugh Butterfield (Greenwood), who thinks she can do better.
Both parties, meanwhile, have baggage from their past – David in the form of a violent temper and criminal record and Jade in the form of a dead brother who whose death from cancer has created tensions within her family that are just waiting to explode.
The biggest problem with Feste’s film is that it is, for the most part, so utterly predictable. You can pretty much guess the various plot beats from the start. It’s also heavy-handed, much like the director’s previous film, Country Strong.
This wouldn’t be so bad if you cared more about the characters but neither Pettyfer nor Wilde (who stood out far more in last year’s Carrie remake) work hard enough to offer up anything interesting.
Feste attempts to compensate by flooding the soundtrack with buzz tunes to deliver the emotions that the leads struggle to generate, while giving any young lads dragged to the film plenty of lingering shots of Wilde in bikinis and underwear. But both tricks wear out pretty quickly.
Greenwood does at least keep things watchable and really works overtime to make his moments come alive, thereby making his journey arc more credible and more memorable in the process. And to be fair, Feste’s script (co-written with Joshua Safran) gives him enough big moments to work with (unlike Robert Patrick, who deserved better as David’s dad and Joely Richardson, who goes through the motions as Hugh’s long-suffering wife).
But this is damning the film with faint praise for Endless Love does eventually feel as drawn out as its title suggests and – overall – is a lukewarm romance to forget.
Running time: 103mins
UK Release Date: February 14, 2014