By Savannah Wood
There’s a classic adage in the storytelling vernacular called “show, don’t tell”. The idea is centralized around encouraging writers to reveal the story through subtleties, expressive elements, and cues rather than explicitly telling the reader everything they need to know–let the story do the talking. No one told the writers of Endless Love about this rule.
On a scene-to-scene basis, Endless Love is one tired declaration of love to another, montages of young lovers falling into each other’s arms, uncomfortably personal conversations between virtual strangers over their deepest, darkest secrets and motivations. There are only so many times I can listen to a teenager scream at her parents about how special some boy is, so many conversations delivering the same statements over and over again about how unique and true this couple’s love is. The ratio of talking about how special said love is to actually showing me in a palpable way was tremendously overbalanced.
The film follows the relationship of Jade Butterfield (the doe-eyed Gabriella Wilde) and David Elliot (Alex Pettyfer). Jade is a bit of a shut-in; after the death of her older brother, she collapsed inwards and withdrew entirely from her peers, spending the rest of her high school years locked away in her family’s stately mansion (there are worse places to spend your isolation). David, a blue-collar classmate, has been obsessed with Jade for years, and the day of their high-school graduation they finally get their meet-cute. Sparks fly, they understand each other in ways no one else ever has, etc. You’ve heard this story before–pretty rich girl, pretty poor boy, being pretty and borderline unhealthily co-dependent together.
David kindles a new eagerness in Jade to make up for lost time and re-experience her wasted teenage years. It could have been a nice premise–if the delivery made any sense. I’m only a few years older than these characters, but there were times I could feel my eyes rolling so far into the back of my head I worried they might get stuck there. Jade’s relationship with her parents that had carried her through the last few years dissolves, she forsakes her internship, devotes all of her time to David with a mindless devotion that left a bad taste in my mouth. “Let’s be stupid and young together”, she says. “Let’s not be too hasty”, I say.
At the end of the day, it’s not like a lot of Endless Love was necessarily bad. It just wasn’t good. I wasn’t anxiously begging it to be over, but I certainly wasn’t hoping it would never end. As far as love stories go, it was mediocre and conventional. As far as films go, it was repetitive and a little bland. I may be the right demographic for this film, but I must be too indifferent or cynical to be the right audience.
Starring: Gabriella Wilde, Alex Pettyfer, Bruce Greenwood, Joely Richardson, Rhys Wakefield, Dayo Okeniyi