From the previews, “Endless Love” looked like a rip-off of Nicholas Sparks’ “A Walk to Remember” or “Dear John.” The biggest difference though is that Sparks’ books and movies are classic romances whereas “Endless Love” begs to be forgotten.
In a classic romance storyline, the bookish and reserved heroine, Jade (played by Gabriella Wilde), falls for bad boy David (played by Alex Pettyfer), who turns out to have a soft side and actually be a good guy. What makes “Endless Love” different is the absurdity of all the relationships and the plot lines left dangling, never to be resolved.
Pettyfer was convincing as the boy with the violent past, but when it gets to the sentimental parts of the relationship, something seemed to just not be believable. Wilde’s character was equally baffling. Are we really supposed to believe that this stunning girl, who is incredibly wealthy, has no friends and that people stopped being her friend when her brother died? It just doesn’t feel authentic to me.
Not all is lost though. The man who steals the show is Jade’s brother Keith (played by Rhys Wakefield). He’s charismatic and manages to make the idea of having high school students choreograph dance routines at a party seem fun. Yes, that is actually a thing that happened in this film and it seemed more realistic than the relationship of Jade and David.
There is also the complex dynamic between Jade’s father Hugh (played by Bruce Greenwood) and her mother Anne (played by Joely Richardson). It was interesting to see Anne try to navigate through her loveless marriage and get inspired by her daughter’s love for David.
Similarly, seeing Jade’s family in the wake of their brother’s death felt like the real story here. It is the reason the Hugh is such a jerk. It’s the reason that Jade is as reserved as she is. While there is plenty of development on this storyline, I would have liked to see the family when it was whole. It would have made us more emotionally connected to their tragedy.
If you look at these secondary characters as opposed to the relationship between Jade and David and Jade’s really over-the-top protective and oppressive father, the film would actually be worth watching. But there are still those plot lines that are left hanging. There’s one scene where Keith talks about how he is the disappointment of the family, but it is never brought up again and there’s no development on it, even though it’s one of the most interesting interactions of the movie.
If you’re looking to this movie for the relationship between Jade and David, you might find yourself disappointed. Things move very quickly for the two. Within about a week of really knowing each other, David is breaking into Jade’s house (where he knows he’s not welcome) to consummate their relationship in front of a fireplace in their living room. That’s not a thing that would really happen. Everyone in our theater was literally laughing out loud during this scene, it was so absurd.
The story of how their love endures obstacle after obstacle is endearing. I think everyone can relate to the desire to have someone who loves them for everything they are and through every obstacle that comes their way. But their relationship is no Noah and Allie or Landon and Jamie.
It’s pretty simple: if you’re going to market your film like a Nicholas Sparks movie, you have to deliver. Sparks has been the forerunner of romance books and movies for years now. “Endless Love” falls far short of the Sparks movie standard, and maybe the disappointment wouldn’t have been so great if we hadn’t thought we were getting something like “A Walk to Remember” from the start.