AtThePartyA sheltered teen from a troubled family falls headlong into her first summer romance.

This new adaptation of Scott Spencer’s source novel–directed by Shana Feste–makes radical changes to the one Franco Zeffirelli directed in ’81 & that is all to the good.

The new “Jade Butterfield” (Gabriella Wilde) is older & more accomplished than the earlier Jade (Brooke Shields), and Feste & her co-screenwriter Joshua Safran give Jade an OK back story which does a pretty good job of explaining why this gorgeous spring flower got all the way to her high school graduation without ever having been plucked.

Her Romeo is called “David Elliot” instead of the original “David Alexrod” (a name now known in other ways in the broader culture), and he is played by Alex Pettyfer instead of Martin Hewitt (who had no real credits before Endless Love & whose career did a nose dive afterwards). Pettyfer, on the other hand, had a great role in Magic Mike (2012) & is likely to go far.M8DENLO EC002

Truth be told, I don’t have many memories of Zeffirelli’s version beyond the fact that it was overwrought & melodramatic. Today the only thing about it that anyone really wants to remember is Lionel Richie’s theme song, which received an Oscar nomination & went on to live a life of its own as the kind of song that never lets go once you start playing it in your head.

Frankly I wasn’t too thrilled about going to see Shana Feste’s new version (especially since I had negative feelings about her two prior films Country Strong and The Greatest), so watching Endless Love came as a pleasant surprise. I was especially touched by the dilemma of Jade’s mother “Anne” (Joely Richardson)–an educated, intelligent woman who doesn’t want to face the long, slow deterioration of her own marriage.

And I also appreciated the fact that Feste & Safran had added some timely “income inequality” dynamics, making their “David Elliot” someone from the 99% who deserves his chance to make good in a genuine meritocracy. Certainly Jade sees the good in David (despite all her own privileges) & that speaks well of her. Anne also encourages David’s educational aspirations, something no one had cared enough to do before.

So see this fresh. Don’t go in thinking you already know the story & don’t bother comparing it to the first adaptation. This film is its own take & much to my surprise, I genuinely enjoyed it. (JLH: 3.5/5)

Click HERE for our FF2 Haiku. Not yet seen by Rich.


Top Photo: Gabriella Wilde is luminous as the new “Jade Butterfield.” Besides being beautiful, she is also smart & feisty, so I enjoyed watching her learn to speak her mind as the story unfolded.

Middle Photo: Brooke Shields & Martin Hewitt, both of whom got saddled with “Razzie Award” nominations–Worst Actress & Worst Actor–way back in 1982.

Bottom Photo: Jade & David (Alex Pettyfer) relaxing at her family’s lakeside vacation “cottage.” Bruce Greenwood has the thankless role of Jade’s imperious father “Hugh,” but by the end, I even felt a bit sorry for him too.

Photo Credits: Quantrell D. Colbert (2014) & Josh Weiner (1981)

Q: Does Endless Love pass the Bechdel Test? It’s a stretch, but I’m going to say yes. DigitalStampA

When Jade & Anne have their mother/daughter talks, they are not just “talking about men.” They are really discussing their own options & choices as women. Watching her daughter bloom, Anne comes to see how much the family tragedy–the death of Jade’s elder brother–has infected Hugh, & that helps her decide the time has come for her to move on with her own life at long last. Brava.

Tags: Alex Pettyfer, Brooke Shields, Endless Love (1981), Endless Love (2014), Franco Zeffirelli, Gabriella Wilde, Joely Richardson, Shana Feste

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