When Hollywood releases a film about two lovelorn teens on Valentine’s Day, it’s clear what they’re hoping for – The Notebook, mark II. From the outset, the conditions for another perfect storm of romantic teen drama look spot-on but the formula is trickier than you’d think.
There’s the stunning yet chaste leading lady, Jade Butterfield (former model Gabriella Wilde, Sue Snell in last year’s Carrie remake). Then there’s the moral but rebellious leading man, David (walking jawline Alex Pettyfer whose abs you may remember from 2012’s Magic Mike).
Our male lead comes from a broken home with a single father. The leading lady comes from a well-to-do family and, as tradition dictates, has at least one parent who disapproves of the young lovers’ relationship. In this case it’s Jade’s father (Bruce Greenwood) who’s trying to keep the star-crossed pair apart. His reason? In order to be with David, Jade has shirked a summer internship, the first step to following in her doctor father’s footsteps.
Scott Spencer’s 1979 book provided the inspiration not only for this film but also for the 1981 film of the same name starring Brooke Shields. Although given a writing credit on this current release, the author claims to have had only brief contact with the original filmmakers and no contact whatsoever with this current incarnation.
While the book addresses the destructive potential of blind, youthful love, this current version has no such depth and contorts the plot into an unrecognisable and unintelligible mess of events. In particular, while the recent death of Jade’s eldest brother helps explain her father’s protective nature, his consequent actions are so radical they’d be better placed in a psychological thriller.
Overall this is a saccharine, repetitive tale. While it has many of the required elements for a successful love story, it takes itself far too seriously and ultimately makes it difficult for the audience to swallow.
Endless Love in cinemas now.