Friday, February 14, 2014

Endless Love [2014]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (O)  ChicagoTribune (1 1/2 Stars) (2 Stars)  AVClub (C+)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. McAlleer) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (C. Lemire) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review

The first thing that a parent ought to know of  Endless Love [2014]  (directed and screenplay by Shana Feste [IMDb] along with Joshua Safran based on the novel by Scott Spencer [IMDb]) its actually a toned-down remake of Franco Zeffirelli's 1981 screen adaptaion of Spencer's love story between a previously quiet 15-year old girl and her troubled 16-year old pyromaniac beau with the tagline "A Love Every Parent Fears" ;-).   So the story's intended to push parents' and other authority figures' (like a blog-writing Catholic priest's ...) buttons ;-).  

In the current version, the ages of the characters are a little higher.  The film begins at the high school graduation of both the beautiful and rich but previously quiet Jade (played by Gabriela Wilde) and the poorer and generally more outgoing, but as it happened ever tongue-tied around her David (played by Alex Pettyfer).  So they are both 17-18 years old and out of high school rather than the 15-16 in the original and right in the middle of it.

So why was Jade so quiet?  Well, we find that the daughter of a generally very successful Atlanta based surgeon named Hugh Butterfield (played by Bruce Greenwood) BUT when Jade was only a freshman or sophomore in high school, Jade's oldest brother and previously the apple of Dr. Butterfield's eye had tragically come down precisely with cancer, a very aggressive kind, and despite Dr. Hugh's BEST EFFORTS died soon afterwards.  The death of a young family member is always hard, but the reader here would certainly appreciate that the circumstances of Jade's older brother to cancer when Jade's father was actually supposed to be a cancer specialist would have to be particularly hard for the surviving family and especially the father to cope with.  And so, though this all took place some three years before, it would not be surprising that it's had its effects -- on Jade, on her father (Dr) Hugh, as well as mom/wife Anne (played by Joely Richardson) and middle son/brother Kieth (played by Rhys Wakefield).  And it does.  Jade's previous response to this tragedy was to close in on herself and her immediate family, not really talk to anybody through most of high school and try to be a really good girl at home. 

David (played by Alex Pettyfer), of course, has his own story.   He's son of an amiable / salt-of-the-earth auto-mechanic named Harry Elliott (played by Robert Patrick) who when David was about 9-10 was dumped by his high-school sweetheart wife who apparently "traded up" / "found a better deal."  Coming home from school one day and finding his mother in bed with another guy, did apparently cause David some trauma in those early-to-middle school years.  He's grown out of that, but it's also part of his past.

Jade and David _finally_ have a chance to talk when some days after graduation, Jade's family goes out to a relatively swanky Atlanta-suburban restaurant (to celebrate Jade's recent graduation) where David and his best friend Mace (played magnificently by Dayo Okeniyi), African-American, work as valets.  As David comes to open her door and kinda stumbles when he sees whose door, Jade's, he's opening, she in turn trips and drops, of all things, her largely empty high school yearbook.  He picks it up for her.  She says, "Thanks."  He responds, "Sure, anything."  She turns then to follow her family to the restaurant, AND THEN STOPS, turns around, and says to David, "Sure, there is one thing.  Could you please sign my yearbook."  he says sure, flips the yearbook to the page of the "Auto-Shop (mechanics') club" and writes something witty along the lines of "I never had the courage to talk to you in high school, but I'd really not want to wait another four years to talk to you again."  When she reads his note while sitting in the restaurant with her folks and middle brother, she smiles.  And he gets another chance to talk to her when they come out.  Obviously they hit it off, and the rest of the movie follows ...

Now most of the drama in the film is one of class difference.  Jade's father, Dr Hugh Butterfield after all, had staked a good part of his aspirations for his children in Jade after his oldest son's (Jade's oldest brother's death).  Keith, the middle son (Jade's middle brother) he had dismissed as something of a "loser."  And in these past years, Jade had been nothing (...) if a "good girl."  Now as she's about to go off to college (pre-Med, of course...) and he's already pulled strings to get her an internship BEFORE THAT (during most of the latter part of the summer), she's fallen in love with David who until finally striking up a conversation with Jade (and finding that she LIKES him) was PERFECTLY HAPPY TO JUST STAY IN TOWN AND EVENTUALLY TAKE OVER HIS FATHER'S AUTO REPAIR BUSINESS.

So the central conflict is Jade's father's head (and perhaps a bunch of PARENTS' watching this film's heads): Could he see his pre-Med (on track to become a surgeon in her own right) daughter married to an auto-mechanic?

And yet, they're soon head-over heals in love ... and though it's kept just, just, just off the screen, they're almost certainly soon sleeping with each other.

THIS ACTUALLY BECOMES A FASCINATING CHALLENGE TO TODAY'S SOCIETY:  Why are we pushing contraceptives on young people?  Are we really concerned about their freedom / choices?  Or do we just want them to remain childless until 10-15 years after their hormones have NATURALLY kicked-in when they are finally finished with Med or Law School?

To be sure, the Church would always be counseling self-control to young people BUT DEFINITELY NOT FOR THE SAME REASONS (The Church _doesn't care_ if Johnny ever gets enough money together to buy a BMW or if Molly ever gets her CPA or Law Degree).  The Church would always tell young people: "Hey, control yourselves, BUT if you can't THEN JUST GET MARRIED."  And the church has ALWAYS defended young people against one or another (or both) set(s) of parents: Witness in Romeo and Juliet, the Friar Lawrence marries them even though it'd be obviously against the wishes of both the families (and in the nearly 800 year old history of my Servite Order, we have countless other examples of this over the centuries).  It just means that the approach to life is different and getting a good house and a good car _isn't_ considered necessary.

So while a fair amount of parents could indeed cringe (even viewing THIS PG-13 version of the story), the Church would simply say "Hey folks, just please don't go all the way unless you get married.  But honestly, otherwise we have your back.  YOU SHOULD MARRY SOMEONE YOU LOVE."

Anyway ... Parents be assured that unless your daughter is going out with someone who's really, really in love with them THIS IS A WEEPY CHICK FLICK (I can't imagine ANY TEENAGE BOY unless he's truly "head over heals" going to see this film ... EVEN IF IT'S "VALENTINES DAY" ;-).

On the other hand, for reasons above, it might not be a bad movie for PARENTS and their TEENAGE / YOUNG ADULT KIDS seeing (in some form) together.

Finally, it has been asked whether there was any _plot-serving point_ of moving the remake of this story to Atlanta (in "The South").

Now the film's screenwriter/director Shana Feste [IMDb] appears to have been born and lived most of her life in Southern California.  However, she did get her Masters' Degree in Creative and Screenwriting at the UT in Austin (Texas also being in "The South") and she was the writer/director of the film Country Strong [2010] also set in "The South" (Nashville, TN and then Texas).  So at minimum, she appears to have an affinity to the South.

But IMHO there is _an_ interesting plot-point made by setting the film in the South: Blue-collar David's best friend is black and, indeed, the (Atlanta) suburban high school that David and Jade attended appears to have been QUITE DIVERSE both racially and economically.  ALL THE YOUNG PEOPLE IN THE FILM ARE FINE WITH THAT (contrast that with the LILY WHITE setting of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid [2011] [2012] franchise) while Jade's dad is clearly not.

So in a way, this film is pretty subversive:  It places the human values of love and inclusion over economic status / success and a winking acceptance to continued racism.  And IMHO that's pretty cool and certainly QUITE CATHOLIC (it's hard to be doctrinally consistent and yet racist in a UNIVERSAL Church ;-).

So despite my initial "eye rolling" doubts about this film, I have to say that the actors/film-makers did a pretty good job! ;-)

<< NOTE - Do you like what you've been reading here?  If you do then consider giving a small donation to this Blog (sugg. $6 _non-recurring_) _every so often_ to continue/further its operation.  To donate just CLICK HERE.  Thank you! :-) >>

No comments:

Post a Comment