Where’s the scene in Endless Love where the mom watches her daughter lose her virginity in front of the fireplace?
The movie, a remake of the 1981 Franco Zeffirelli film starring Brooke Shields (based on the 1979 novel by Scott Spencer), seems to have entirely missed what made the phrase “endless love” so scarring for a generation of Americans. Endless Love without Mrs. Butterfield’s obsession over her daughter’s boyfriend is like Flowers in the Attic without the brother-sister incest, or Lolita without an underage Dolores. As it is, the film is just crappy, sappy, PG-13 Valentine’s Day drivel.
This isn’t to say that anyone really thought the movie would be a classic. The trailer is an awful masterpiece. The plot, riddled with tired clichés from romantic movies, is simple enough: summer love blossoms between Jade (Gabriella Wilde), a beautiful bookworm who has gone through high school without making one friend, and David (Alex Pettyfer), a muscular bro who has gone through high school in love with Jade without making a move. But then he signs her yearbook; they take a fast ride in a sports car; the wind blows her skirt up just a bit…it’s love.
David sends Jade a text making it official: What are you doing every day for the rest of summer? Forty-eight hours later, the two are at Jade’s home in the middle of the night, naked, writhing on the carpet in front of the fireplace, making love. A few questions arise:
1. Why are they having sex, in front of a fireplace, in the living room, at the base of the stairs?
2. Why are they talking so loudly? (Jade: “I’m scared.” David: “Don’t be.”)
3. Why are they completely naked?
4. Why do they just stay naked on the ground as the sun rises?
So as it happens, David and Jade, loins metaphorically burning like the logs in the fireplace, hookup in the most conspicuous of ways. Somehow no one catches them.
In the book, here’s where the plot diverges. Mrs. Butterfield tells David what happened:
“Oh stop, don’t be so damned squeamish. There’s nothing in this that’s going to hurt you. And you know there’s no one else to tell it to. Are you embarrassed? You explode like a bomb in the middle of my life and you’re embarrassed? I didn’t get very close, you know. I was much too surprised, and scared. I only made it halfway down the stairs and if it wasn’t for the fireplace I might not have even known you two were making love. I saw Jade’s hands on your shoulders and the tops of her knees, the way they were raised…”
After Mrs. Butterfield retreats upstairs, she goes to have sex with her husband, only to realize that Jade has her diaphragm. So that her husband doesn’t find out that Jade was being deflowered downstairs, she chooses not to get her prophylactics from Jade.
“We made love and risked getting pregnant, just as you and Jade made love without any useful protection. What a night of risks! How the souls of the unborn must have hovered over that old house, waiting for the act of inception.”
Zeffirelli didn’t shy away from the salacious in the 1981 film, as Mrs. Butterfield and the camera linger on the actor Martin Hewitt’s exposed buttocks while he’s on top of Brooke Shields. When David visits a freshly-divorced Mrs. Butterfield in Manhattan, she confesses to her own endless love.
“It changed everything that night,” she says, wearing only a nightgown and untying her hair. “Everything I believed about love. About my marriage…That night that I came down and saw you with Jade and then made love to my husband, I was making love to you.”
They kiss. He stops.
“I can’t make love to anybody but Jade,” David says, his leading-man intensity somewhere between Steve Guttenberg and Romeo.
It’s a loaded scene, creepy at its core, a delight for our inner perverts. We’ve been waiting for this moment ever since Mrs. Butterfield crept down the stairs and saw something by the fireplace. It’s a shame the new Endless Love didn’t see the same thing.
This remake is just an innocuous, watered down love story about two horny, dopey teens. The worst thing they do is break into a zoo and ride the merry-go-round. In the end, they move to California. Zeffirelli's film was awful and creepy and over the top in all the right ways: arson, chases, death, prison, Tom Cruise. Now that's a movie!