Blu-ray Review: Endless Love | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, January 25th, 2020  

Endless Love

Studio: Shout! Factory

Sep 03, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Unusually, Endless Love doesn’t track the story of its two sweethearts meeting and falling in love. When we first lay eyes on 17-year-old David and 15-year-old Jade, they’re already mad for one another: gazing longingly into each other’s’ eyes from across a crowded room, stealing kisses in the pantry, and waiting until the family has gone to sleep to quietly make love on the rug beside the fireplace. Rather, it’s a story about what happens when one half of this romantic partnership can’t handle or temper such overwhelming feelings of passion.

While Jade’s beatnik parents are surprisingly supportive of their teenage daughter’s nonstop bumping and grinding at first, it eventually starts to wear on them. David seems to spend every day at their house, and Jade is caught stealing sleeping pills so that she can recover after her all-night humping sessions. Mom and dad make a reasonable-enough sounding request that the two take a 30-day break from seeing each other, as finals are coming up and Jade really needs to catch up on her sleep. This mandate proves too much for David, whose feelings for her reveals itself to be a dangerous obsession. Only a few days into his mandatory, one-month hiatus, David burns her family’s house down accidentally on purpose.

At this point the movie pivots from a steamy teen romance into something far darker and weirder. David is committed to an asylum for two years, where he’s plagued by hallucinations of Jade and resists the doctors’ treatments. When he’s eventually released, things only get stranger for him and harder on poor Jade, whose family was forced to move away and has since disintegrated in the fallout of the fire.

Endless Love almost feels like two different movies. The first is an honest and tender tale of young love, while the latter portrays a frightening downward spiral for the movie’s hero. (Critic Lee Gambin, who provides a commentary on this new edition, also penned this intriguing essay that views Endless Love as a horror movie.) The movie certainly had enough longing stares and not-quite-X-rated groping to raise the temperatures of the horny youths who took the film to the top of the box office in 1981, but you have to imagine those same kids were startled by the shocking turns it made over its second half.

While Endless Love isn’t fully deserving of the bad rap it received from contemporary critics on its theatrical release, we’ll concede that it probably did miss the point of the acclaimed novel by downplaying the consequences of David’s erotic obsession. (I haven’t read it, but the movie paints David as too innocent in his own downfall and that of the relationship.) Endless Love was pummeled with Razzie nominations, but this has all the looks of a case of snarky bandwagon jumping rather than a movie being judged on its own merits. The female cast, in particular, is undeserving. Shields gives a very effective performance as the young object of a stalker’s obsession, immature enough to mistake dangerous infatuation for undying affection; her nomination likely had more to do with her Calvin Klein commercials than Endless Love. Shirley Knight, who plays Jade’s mother, is also very good in a fairly complicated role.

Shout! Factory have revived Endless Love in a new Blu-ray edition, which will hopefully help give interested parties a chance to view it a better light. The new 2K scan looks very nice, and presents the movie with a film-like look. It’s also packed with new interviews, including star Martin Hewitt and an archival audio chat with Knight. Fans of Endless Love should be excited by this new release, which should give others a reason to give the unfairly maligned film a proper chance.  



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