A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
The novel Endless Love is about a teenage boy who remembers, with full ferocity and grief and yearning, the great love of his life, after it has been ended by fate and the adult world. The movie “Endless Love” is about a teenage boy and girl who are in love, until fate and adults end their relationship. There is all the difference in the world between these two story sequences, and although there are a great many things wrong with the movie, this blunder on the narrative level is the worst.
Didn't the makers of this movie understand the poignancy at the very heart of the novel? The book begins with its hero, David, committing an act that will end all of his happiness for years. Forbidden to see his girl, Jade, for thirty days, he sets a fire of newspapers on the porch of her house hoping to win a reprieve by being the hero who "discovers" the fire. The house burns down, and David is sent into a long exile in a mental institution. The novel's point of view is of a boy who has lost everything he values and remembers it with undying passion. But the movie rearranges the events of the book into chronological order. That means that the love affair between Jade and David, instead of being remembered as a painful loss, is seen in the "now" as, well, as a teenage romance. Its additional level of meaning is lost.
A story that began as a poem to the fierce pride of adolescent passion gets transmuted into a sociological case study. This movie contains some of the same characters and events as Scott Spencer's wonderful novel (indeed, at times it is unnecessarily faithful to situations and dialogue from the book), but it does not contain the book's reason for being. It is about events and it should be about passion.
There are many other problems in the film. One crucial mistake is in casting: Martin Hewitt, as David, the seventeen-year-old boy, is a capable actor but is too handsome, too heavily bearded, too old in appearance to suggest an adolescent bundle of vulnerability and sensitivity. Another mistake is in narrative: The sequence of events involving David's release from the institution, his trip to New York, and exactly what happens there, is so badly jumbled that some audience members will not know how and why he went to New York, and hardly anyone will be able to follow the circumstances that reunite him with Jade.