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dir Shana Feste
scr Shana Feste, Joshua Safran
prd Pamela Abdy, Stephanie Savage, Josh Schwartz, Scott Stuber
with Alex Pettyfer, Gabriella Wilde, Bruce Greenwood, Joely Richardson, Robert Patrick, Rhys Wakefield, Dayo Okeniyi, Emma Rigby, Anna Enger, Fabianne Therese, Stephanie Northrup, Andrew Masset
release US/UK 14.Feb.14
14/US Universal 1h43
Dreamy romance: Wilde and Pettyfer
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
A simplistic script and over-earnest tone undermine this romantic remake before it gets a chance to kick into gear. Sappy sentiment, cliched characters and predictable plotting leave nothing for usidentify with. It's like Nicholas Sparks Lite, if that's even possible.
Raised by his single dad (Patrick), working-class teen David (Pettyfer) has always had an eye on the class wallflower, rich kid Jade (Wilde). But it takes until graduation for him to finally make his move. There's a spark between them, but her harsh father (Greenwood) is having none of it, sabotaging their relationship every chance he gets. His wife (Richardson) is more sympathetic, as is Jade's brother Kevin (Wakefield). But even though they're deeply, endlessly in love, what chance does David have with these odds stacked against him?
Yes of course love at age 17 feels like the end of the world, but filmmaker Feste never remotely captures that on screen, settling instead for wistful scenes of serious, pretty people dealing with feelings that overwhelm them. Except that they don't. The main problem is that we never get the sense that these two teens are in love beyond the superficial chemistry Pettyfer and Wilde generate. And their obstacles are tepid, toned down like everything else in the movie.
It takes an egregious manipulation of things like mobile phones to maintain even a shred of logic in this script. Even though he's played by an adept actor like Greenwood, it's impossible to believe that Jade's dad could be this tortured and relentlessly vicious. Essentially playing Channing Tatum, Pettyfer is fine as the hapless, far-too-amazing David, although Wilde barely registers as Jade. The most interesting performances come from Richardson and Patrick in the only roles that have even a hint of ambiguity.
And it's not as if there's a point to be made here. The film feels like a callous attempt to drag 12-year-old girls into the cinema: a dreamy, gloppy love story that's utterly devoid of realism. By comparison, the 1981 original was a gritty drama infused with physical passion. Here everything from the dialog to the camerawork is so derivative that we are always several steps ahead of the characters. So those outside the target demographic will struggle to maintain even a whiff of interest.
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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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