Endless Love Earns Its Title the Bad Way

Feb 13, 2014 at 4:00 am
Endless Love Earns Its Title the Bad Way
Universal Pictures

The endless love in question unfolds in that universe where shy, bookish teenage girls are always catalog-model beautiful, not a pimple in sight or a pound overweight, not a garment from Hot Topic darkening their closets.

The movie tells us that 17-year-old Jade Butterfield (Gabriella Wilde) is “awkward” and has no friends, but all expository evidence stops there. She has just graduated from high school — you know, the one with exactly two black students who date each other — and is bound for the Ivy Leagues when lowly but popular son-of-an-auto-mechanic David Elliot (Magic Mike’s Alex Pettyfer, who would need to be five years younger and drastically beefed down to pass as a teenager) spots her and pursues her with the immediate, freaky prowess of a guy who would intentionally poke holes in a condom.

Granted, raw intensity is the point here, as it was in the 1981 Brooke Shields original that this indie pop-fried nugget is remaking. But at least the old one aimed to illustrate the destructive nature of untempered passion -- with an ultra-metaphorical house fire, no less.

Beside the usual disapproving parents and diverging post-school life paths, the makers of this V-day teen bait clearly lose no sleep over glorifying young people’s total self-obliteration for new lovers they barely know. “He has no future, and he’s going to make sure you don’t have one, either!” bellows a vilified father (Bruce Greenwood). We’re supposed to scoff at his heartlessness, although considering Jade has given up a prestigious internship, nearly been arrested, and gotten in a serious car accident as a result of her association with this man-boy, it’s hard not to err on the side of Dad.

But never mind; this film is a sunny, overlong pastiche of tropes, the kind that suggest love involves nothing more than holding hands and jumping off a dock into a lake, or having slow, teary-eyed sex in front of a fireplace, inexplicably blazing in mid-June.

We never hear the central couple have a conversation that’s not centered on their unwarranted, histrionic “love.” And therein lies the kicker. They actually do make a good couple, in a way. Both Jade and David are searching for the blankest of all possible slates: a human void unmarred by personality onto which they can each project their weird possessive fantasies. They certainly find it in each other.