Directed by Shana Feste
“Endless Love” – the 2014 remake of Scott Spencer’s novel of the same name – is set to be released this friday on Valentine’s Day.
I’ll keep the spoilers to a minimum.
The plot follows David Axelrod and Jade Butterfield in their Romeo and Juliet-esque struggle to blend their seemingly incompatible worlds. David and Jade begin a heated and passionate romance – to the dismay of Jade’s father, Hugh Butterfield, who seems to have developed an unhealthy codependent relationship with his daughter.
As expected, Hugh quickly goes from disapproving father to belligerent dictator when Jade even goes as far to decline a medical internship that her father procured “for her.” Surprise! Daddy orders the family to pack up – they’re heading to their lake house for an impromptu vacation. Even bigger surprise, Jade invites her new beau to join them – and all but tells daddy dearest to “eff” off. Ballsy!
As if we didn’t like our antagonist de facto already, David walks in on Hugh having a make out party with a work colleague in the middle of their impromptu revenge-cation. Great. Now the full wrath of David Butterfield (what an intimidating surname) has been unleashed in the form of passive aggressive jabs and impetuous attempts to ruin innocent David’s life. Nothing major.
I’d like to start this by saying that the film grain, especially during the Lake House arch, was absolutely stunning. Bravo!
Now, back to the meat. The Butterfield family is the classic well-to-do family with a lot more than a few familial “issues” swept underneath the carpet. However, despite being crazy rich, their domestic dysfunction is relatable to a large audience. This movie does an excellent job of making these societal blue-bloods appear more human, and fragile.
With that being said, one thing that disappointed me was the lack of development with the character Ann Butterfield. Ann’s character is not only missing an “e” in her name (it bothers me a little, sorry) but she also lacks two essential qualities: strength and self-esteem. By the end of the movie, Ann remains the same flat, secretly miserable woman who’d rather suffer in silence than speak up for herself throughout the movie. She fails to break free from the stereotypical personification of women as defenseless and vulnerable. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Hugh Butterfield, by contrast, receives the most development in the storyline. Hugh is introduced to us as a modern day version of Lord Capulet with classist undertones. But towards the end of the movie we witness the expansion of his mental paradigm as he fills himself with compassion and understanding. His sudden emotional growth spurt occurred when he saved David’s life instead of choosing to save his deceased son’s possessions. Which is cool, I guess. But, I think that Mr. Butterfield was unjustly spared from death. His character would have been far more memorable and dynamic if he had battled the chaotic flames threatening to consume his home, but had failed to escape the grip of death.
To be frank, Romeo and Juliet inspired films have been done, and done to death. “Endless Love” is a mildly enthralling take on an exhausted cliché. However, don’t expect any large-scale evolution from the two main characters – David and Jade – who are essentially a diluted Romeo and Juliet equipped with smartphones. David and Jade symbolize youthful, innocent and oblivious love. Whereas Hugh and Ann mirror the power couple and gives the audience a glimpse of what they may become: jaded, broken and riddled with plagued by infidelity.
The obvious message that this film sends is to fight for your love – and everything will be satisfactory. Basically, that the universe will conspire to help you realize your dream. However, the less obvious message that it may be sending, albeit unintentionally, is that love is an incredible endeavor and may, ultimately, fail. But we’ll never know seeing as how many of the plot threads that were introduced were just forgotten about. Like Hugh’s make out party with his female colleague.
I wholly recommend this movie for those of you who like your romance with only a smidgen of comedy on the side. Bon appétit!