The endless love in question unfolds in that universe where shy, bookish teenage girls are always catalog-model beautiful, not a pimple in sight or a pound overweight, not a garment from Hot Topic darkening their closets.
The movie tells us that 17-year-old Jade Butterfield (Gabriella Wilde) is “awkward” and has no friends, but all expository evidence stops there. She has just graduated from high school — you know, the one with exactly two black students who date each other — and is bound for the Ivy Leagues when lowly but popular son-of-an–auto mechanic David Elliot (Magic Mike’s Alex Pettyfer, who would need to be five years younger and drastically beefed down to pass as a teenager) spots her and pursues her with the immediate, freaky prowess of a guy who would intentionally poke holes in a condom.
Granted, raw intensity is the point here, as it was in the 1981 Brooke Shields original that this indie pop-fried nugget is remaking. But at least the old one aimed to illustrate the destructive nature of untempered passion — with an ultra-metaphorical house fire, no less.
Directed by Shana Feste
Written by Shana Feste and Joshua Safran
Starring Alex Pettyfer, Gabriella Wilde, Bruce Greenwood, Joely Richardson and Robert Patrick
Beside the usual disapproving parents and diverging post-school life paths, the makers of this V-day teen bait clearly lose no sleep over glorifying young people’s total self-obliteration for new lovers they barely know. “He has no future, and he’s going to make sure you don’t have one, either!” bellows a vilified father (Bruce Greenwood). We’re supposed to scoff at his heartlessness, although considering Jade has given up a prestigious internship, nearly been arrested and gotten in a serious car accident as a result of her association with this man-boy, it’s hard not to err on the side of Dad.
But never mind; this film is a sunny, overlong pastiche of tropes, the kind that suggest love involves nothing more than holding hands and jumping off a dock into a lake, or having slow, teary-eyed sex in front of a fireplace, inexplicably blazing in mid-June.
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We never hear the central couple have a conversation that’s not centered on their unwarranted, histrionic “love.” And therein lies the kicker. They actually do make a good couple, in a way. Both Jade and David are searching for the blankest of all possible slates: a human void unmarred by personality onto which they can each project their weird possessive fantasies. They certainly find it in each other.