It was surprising in 1981 that celebrated film director, Franco Zeffirelli, directed the Hollywood film Endless Love. It was a star vehicle for Brooke Shields in those days and Tom Cruise had a small role.
The main protagonist was played by Martin Hewitt who did not have a strong career in films. But the theme song, sung by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, proved very popular at the time.
But now this is a new time and a new version of Endless Love. A number of comments have indicated that it is quite different from the novel, and the novelist himself, Scott Spencer, has recommended that people avoid this film and satisfy themselves with reading his book. Certainly, in reading some synopses of the book and of the original film, the 2014 version changes a number of the emphases.
This time the young man is played by British Alex Pettyfer, who has had some success in recent times in American films like The Butler and Magic Mike. Here he is a strong character, unlike the original, and audiences will empathise with him, a rather principled young man from the wrong side of the tracks. The focus of emotional trouble is on Jade (Gabriella Wilde), finishing her high school, sad, along with her grieving family, at the death of her older brother, the shining light of the family who died of cancer.
She has been quiet, confining herself to home and study, but sees David and is attracted by him and asks her parents for a graduation party so that she can invite him to. This is the beginning of endless love for them both.
One thing to say about Endless Love is that unlike so many of the films about young teenagers emerging from America, which tend to be fairly crass and sexist, this one advocates genuine feelings and wants to foster mutual respect in love and in families. Which is something in American films that we should not knock.
- Peter Malone, ACOFB
Starring Alex Pettifer, Gabriella Wilde, Bruce Greenwood, Joely Richardson, Rhys Wakefield, Robert Patrick. Directed by Shana Feste. Rated M (infrequent coarse language). 106 minutes.