Romantic films often succeed or fail on the basis of chemistry, an indefinable quality that often comes down to an audience’s acceptance of the primary couple’s bond. Endless Love meets that requirement with an engaging, attractive couple in Jade (Gabriella Wilde) and David (Alex Pettyfer). This film doesn’t aspire to be anything but a well-done romantic story with a few, choice emotional obstacles that need to be overcome by its young couple before they find true love. A movie practically invented for Valentine’s Day and its sentiments, Endless Love remakes the 1981 film of the same name in an entertaining fashion that gets overly melodramatic in a clumsy climax.
David Eliot is the likable, working-class kid with no ambition to attend college. His single father is a mechanic and runs a garage. Jade is the beautiful, aloof girl at David’s high school. Jade’s brother died from cancer during her time in high school and that drove her away from participating in a normal high school experience. Instead she followed her father’s desired path and studied hard so she could go pre-Med at Brown University. Hugh Butterfield (Bruce Greenwood) is her overprotective, emotionally manipulative father, a wealthy surgeon that doesn’t trust David from the beginning. Jade’s father is the first and biggest obstacle placed in the way between David and Jade from achieving true happiness.
Soon after David and Jade graduate high school together, circumstances conspire to bring the two together despite their class differences. Jade is beautiful and comes from a wealthy family, but David is the only one that shows up to her graduation party. It’s mildly believable only because the narrative hammers home the point how distant Jade had become in school since her brother’s death, isolating herself. David uses his charm to finagle friends of his into attending Jade’s party.
The following romance proceeds at a frenetic pace, as David and Jade quickly begin to fall in love. A two-week deadline looms over the new relationship, as her father intends for Jade to begin an internship and leave home. There is some wish fulfillment going on in Endless Love. David is practically the perfect boyfriend, a male character pulled straight from a Nicholas Sparks’ movie or novel. I have no doubt he makes for excellent eye candy among this movie’s intended female audience. There is nothing wrong with that; Jade is a beguiling combination of innocence and beauty herself. As a couple, they look good together.
The first hour moves toward a predictable path as David and Jade begin to explore new love together. Things look happy for the young couple when the focus shifts to Jade’s father. Hugh Butterfield never liked David in the first place, somewhat unfairly. His wife, Anne (Joely Richardson), has no problems with David and intends to write him a recommendation for college. David discovers a secret about Hugh that introduces a series of developments which threaten to destroy Jade’s new-found love.
Endless Love doesn’t make a misstep in its story until the very dramatic events of its final act. What had been a simple love story becomes a kind of triangle featuring Hugh, David and Jade. The clichés had been mostly harmless up until this point but Hugh’s character goes in a dark direction, as he ratchets up the conflict with David. Every great love story needs a conflict to overcome but this one becomes wrought with serious melodrama. Both the acting and direction fail to waver in the slightest but some conflict feels forced for the sake of drama.
Endless Love is a pleasant diversion intended for romantics. Can a reckless summer affair grow into true love for the young couple at the heart of its narrative? I think most going in will know the answer but as they say, it is more about the journey than the destination in this case. This movie would have been a complete failure with the wrong leads but both Gabriella Wilde and Alex Pettyfer are real stars in the making, they share an enjoyable chemistry together that carries the largely predictable story.
Universal provides a fine-looking BD for Endless Love’s sun-drenched cinematography. Shot on a variety of cameras, including the ARRI Alexa digital camera, the final look is a bit inconsistent between each setting. Ranging from pristine clarity and immaculate video to darker interiors with dense black levels and mild grain, Endless Love’s 1080p video is free of serious technical problems but lacking the highly polished quality of other recent Hollywood romances.
Framed at a pleasing 2.35:1 aspect ratio preserving its theatrical exhibition, this Blu-ray has been authored by Deluxe Digital Studios for Universal. Their AVC video encode doesn’t seem to introduce compression artifacts of its own, averaging a fairly high 32.83 Mbps for the main feature. Interior shots are occasionally noisy with a touch of crushing to the black levels. Some minor aliasing is evident in a few scenes, likely endemic to the Digital Intermediate due to VFX scaling errors.
Better scenes in Endless Love end up looking superb on Blu-ray, highlighting intricate sets and excellent production design. The Butterfields own a beautiful lakefront summer home that produces spectacular scenery of the lake. Interiors consistently exhibit less sharpness and detail, though thankfully no video processing appears to have been used. Close-ups contain a serious amount of micro-detail, sometimes down to the pores.
The digital color-timing leans slightly warm with the flesh-tones, appropriately for Endless Love’s summer setting. Its color palette is nicely saturated with outstanding depth to the image, especially in the better exterior settings.
There are no problems with this Blu-ray’s video quality that weren’t in the original production. It’s a quality digital transfer that ranges from eye candy to somewhat average clarity for a new movie. The slight grain structure hasn’t been filtered away and occasionally Endless Love really sparkles.
Endless Love is graced with a standard surround mix fit for a recent Hollywood production. The 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack is filled with directional cues and surprisingly dynamic audio moments. Christophe Beck’s score is nicely imbued across the soundstage in a delicate balance with the occasional moody Pop song. It is a bit predictable with swelling strings and all the usual motifs one hears in romances, but serves the narrative. The LFE channel employs a decent amount of bass to bolster some of the more energetic scenes. There really isn’t enough in this mix to wow audiophiles, but it does enough to make for a decent sonic experience in a nice home theater.
Universal provides Spanish and French dubs in 5.1 DTS at 768 kbps. A descriptive English track in 2.0 Dolby Digital at 192 kbs is also included. The following subtitle options appear in a white font, inside the widescreen framing at all times: English SDH, Spanish, French.
Now this is a loaded set for a new release, featuring over thirty enjoyable minutes of deleted scenes. Universal provides a DVD and a digital copy in this combo package. The digital copy is good for an UltraViolet Copy which redeems in HDX on VUDU and an iTunes copy as well. First pressings include a cardboard slipcover replicating the standard cover photo.
The Making of Endless Love (17:59 in HD) – Director Shana Feste and a host of other people go over the film in a decent overview of the production process in this standard featurette. It’s hard to hit any area with much depth in this length of time but a viewer will get a nice feel of what went on behind the scenes.
Extended Ending (02:36 in HD) – I guess this extended ending was included separately from the other deleted material to make its appearance more prominent.
Deleted, Extended and Alternate Scenes (29:45 in HD) – Most of these scenes look finished from a production standpoint, many of them easily could have fit into the final cut without much of a problem. Some appear to fill in little details that go unexplained in the final cut, likely cut for time. This is easily one of the stronger batches of cut scenes I’ve seen in recent years. A few should have probably made the film, it is surprising they didn’t make a director’s cut for home video.
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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.