Endless is available to rent or buy on all major digital platforms from 23rd November
Who here remembers the delicate beauty of Ghost (1990) and its sensual potter’s wheel? Or how about the intoxicatingly brilliant Truly Madly Deeply and its musical powerhouse of emotion, also from 1990? Whichever of these supernatural romantic delights remains your favourite; several key ingredients link them both; stunning cinematography, engaging performances and deep emotional resonance. However, not all supernatural romantic outings are created equal. For example, Charlie St Cloud (2010) while successful relied heavily on the brooding good looks of Zac Efron. Its on-screen story smoothing out many of the sharper edges of Ben Sherwood’s book. Meanwhile, Every Day (2018) struggled to embrace its diversity and difference as it descended into bland, humdrum cliches. So where I hear you ask, does Scott Speer’s Endless sit on the ghostly romance spectrum? The answer is in the disappointingly average category.
Riley (Alexandra Shipp) and Chris (Nicholas Hamilton) are two high school seniors madly in love, despite Riley’s parents being less than enamoured by the motorcycle loving Chris. Their hopes for Riley bound in her escaping to college to study law. And her leaving behind the working-class Chris, who does not match their expectations of a future life partner. Meanwhile, Chris loves Riley with all of his heart but fears her eventual decision to attend college. Her passion for art dropped by a need to please her parents.
Riley, however, is torn between her love for Chris, and her parents wish for her success. And when she receives an acceptance letter from a top college, a night out with Chris descends into darkness. His hopes for their future relationship dashed as he finds out through friends at a party, of Riley’s intention to study law. The shock leading him to drink too much, with Riley borrowing a friends car to get them both home from the gathering. Her decision resulting in tragedy as the car collides with another.
But, as Riley wakes up in a hospital bed, she learns that Chris did not survive the crash; her devastation wrapped in the guilt of driving. However, Chris stands just by her bed, his body no longer in its physical form, his spirit still supporting her. While at the same time, his undying love searches for a way to communicate one more time.
In what amounts to a brazen attempt to reinvent 1990’s Ghost for a teen audience, Endless forgets to create any meaningful atmosphere of emotional attachment. The brief scenes between Riley and Chris leading up to the accident vacant of any emotional spark. While at the same time, Shipp and Hamilton (both accomplished actors) desperately fight against a screenplay determined to descend into lazy cliches and simplicity. A trait that had me mentally drifting from the screen just 20 minutes into the story. But, even worse than that, I found myself emotionally blank throughout the 95-minute runtime. Now, of course, I am aware that I am not the target audience for Endless. And I am willing to accept that some younger viewers may find it slightly more engaging. However, this also brings me to my biggest bugbear with Speer’s movie.
Young adult movies are at their strongest when they treat their target audience with the intelligence they deserve. Bringing to life stories that aim to challenge, inspire and engage young minds across a range of genres. The movies that achieve this transcend the boundaries of young adult entertainment. Becoming vehicles of cinematic innovation, from The Perks of Being a Wallflower to Love Simon and Maze Runner.
However, many also seek to treat a young adult audience as simplistic in their thoughts, emotions and ideas. The result of which is lazy, dull popcorn fodder that tries to draw in a young crowd through the names of its cast alone. And while Endless does at points try to rise above its laziness, particularly within its cinematography and casting. This is a movie that ultimately opts for tiresome melodrama over creativity and risk; a pity given the brilliant young talent on-screen. As a result, Endless offers nothing new to the genre of its birth, while equally losing any viewer interest in the journey of its characters. Therefore, my advice is simple, no matter how old you are; seek out the beauty of Ghost and Truly Madly Deeply instead.
Director: Scott Speer
Cast: Alexandra Shipp, Nicholas Hamilton, DeRon Horton, Ian Tracey, Catherine Lough Haggquist, Eddie Ramos