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Endless Love review: Alex Pettyfer stars in insipid teen romance

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Director: Shana Feste; Screenwriter Shana Feste, Joshua Safran; Starring: Alex Pettyfer, Gabriella Wilde, Bruce Greenwood, Joely Richardson, Robert Patrick; Running time: 103 mins; Certificate: 12A


"Let's be young and dumb just for one night," Gabriella Wilde's recluse-turned-rebel Jade beseeches boyfriend David (Alex Pettyfer), in a line that would mean more if this couple's only discernible personality traits weren't already young and dumb.

It's not quite accurate to describe Endless Love as either a remake of the Tom Cruise-Brooke Shields vehicle from 1981, nor as an adaptation of Scott Spencer's darkly erotic novel from the '70s - think Romeo & Juliet in high school as dreamed up by Nicholas Sparks after a lobotomy. It's genuinely wretched stuff, clunky and manipulative and seemingly endless despite its relatively lean running time.

Kid from the wrong side of the tracks David has harboured a dimly creepy crush on Jade - the least convincing high school outcast since Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker - for years. We find out everything we know about Jade from voiceover and exposition, because from Wilde's insipid performance you wouldn't guess that the character has ever experienced an emotion of any type. She's been a straight-laced loner since her brother's death, but following graduation David takes it upon himself to finally bring her out of her shell. He's a free spirit, she's a good girl. You know the rest. It involves a lot of frolicking in sun-dappled montages.

Gabriella Wilde in Endless Love

Gabriella Wilde in Endless Love


The obstacles keeping Jade and David apart - from Jade's controlling dad Hugh (Bruce Greenwood) to her far-flung college ambitions to David's history of violence - are all compelling and reasonable, but the film desperately wants us to buy into the world-shattering power of their love despite Pettyfer and Wilde striking up all the heat and spark of a damp woodpile. Greenwood, presumably collecting a decent paycheque, is initially interesting as the grief-stricken father but swiftly becomes cartoonish as he goes to pantomime villain lengths to keep his daughter and her one true love apart.

Co-scripted by director Shana Feste and Joshua Safran (best known for his stint on disastrous NBC series Smash), the script has its characters talk in song lyrics rather than sentences - for a fun drinking game, try taking a shot every time someone utters the phrase "You have to fight for love!" The only redeeming feature comes in the actual soundtrack, which features a surprisingly eclectic mix of indie-leaning tracks from Tegan & Sarah and Echosmith among others.

Going into the mind-bogglingly silly third act, it's increasingly clear just how many cues are being taken from the Sparks songbook as the scripters throw every climactic device they can think of at the wall. Car crash? Check. Fire? Check. Slow-mo airport rush? Check.

This is a world in which high school kids at a house party willingly partake in a choreographed dance routine contest, and in which Pettyfer's personality-free lunk is the epitome of an inspirational dreamer. You'll find more recognisable romance in Her, more compelling erotic charge in Cuban Fury and more convincing portrayals of human beings in The Lego Movie.

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