“Endless Love” is far more watchable than it could have been. Alex Pettyfer continues to prove he’ll never have anything more than limited range. Yes, he’s a good looking man, but that will only get you so far - especially in the acting biz. He'll never be handed any truly intelligent scripts if he doesn't have anything to offer beyond a pretty face. But ironically, in a movie that focuses on the budding relationship between two recent high school graduates, it is the performances of the older cast that give the film weight.
Joely Richardson is actually in two theatrical releases currently, but as Jade Butterfield’s mother, she’s given a lot more to do than just stand around in a costume looking prestigious(as she does in “Vampire Academy”). Anne Butterfield is the one half of the parental unit that actually approves of her daughter’s relationship. It reminds her of the early days of her relationship with Hugh(Bruce Greenwood), but those days have faded into routine, and the tragedy of their son’s death seems to have somewhat driven them apart.
There is less of a focus on David’s family, but Robert Patrick pretty much makes up for his flat-out embarrassing role in last year’s “Identity Thief” as David’s father Harry. Harry has some lovelorn history of his own, but out of all the adults in the film, he seems to have the best head on his shoulders. It would certainly be nice to see Patrick in some better films. Here, he proves he’s still got it, even though he may never have another role as iconic as he did with the T-1000 in “Terminator 2: Judgement Day.”
“Endless Love” centers around a relationship that, for all intents and purposes, could be considered puppy love. These kids are fresh out of high school, and they know nothing of the ways of the world(but perhaps that is just the jaded adult talking). Even so, Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde do a solid job of selling it. The viewer ends up caring about David and Jade enough to get frustrated when the screenplay tosses up all the romantic film cliches(like when one of the love birds walks in to find the other bird talking to an ex). The movie starts to deviate into a little more silliness once some of the characters decide to break into a zoo, and the ending lays on a nice layer of cheese.
Director Shana Feste has come a long way from her last film, “Country Strong.” Here, she had a little help from Joshua Safran on the screenplay. It would be interesting to see what she could do directing somebody else’s screenplay. Feste seems to be able to create chemistry between her characters, but doesn’t necessarily use that chemistry to tell an interesting or memorable story. “Endless Love” manages to draw in the audience in for awhile, but soon enough, it becomes a challenge to keep the old eyeballs from rolling. Rest assured: “The Notebook” this is not. It’s not all that painful of an experience to watch, but that isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement.
Also, keep an eye out for Rhys Wakefield. Wakefield was probably the best part of “The Purge” as he played the creepy, polite guy outside of Ethan Hawke’s home in the film. Here, he plays a son living in the shadow of his younger brother’s tragic death. It’s a shame his storyline never really seems to come to a resolution, but hopefully moviegoers will be seeing more of Wakefield in the future.