The Reel Story: Endless Love by Scott Spencer

Introducing The Reel Story feature! Every month, we will invite a fellow blogger or Savvy Reader to discuss a recent book-to-film adaptation. Today, Kathy from A Glass of Wine discusses the film adaptation of Scott Spencer‘s 1979 coming-of-age romance Endless Love. Since its publication, Endless Love has sold 2,000,000 copies worldwide and Spencer has been hailed “the contemporary American master of the love story”(Publishers Weekly). The film, which happens to be the second book-to-film adaptation of the story, is directed by David O’Russell and stars Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde. See the film’s IMDB page here, or find out more about the novel.

Ever hear the expression that love is a like a drug? How about the phrase “addicted to love”? Or even “love is a battlefield”? Our bodies go through similar things while in the midst of infatuation as it does taking certain drugs. It’s a powerful thing, and just as it has the ability to change us, it can also consume us.

Endless Love focuses on the relationship between David and Jade. An adolescent relationship that is filled with the usual angst, and promises of forever. Forever, obviously, doesn’t last long, and ends with David setting fire to Jade’s house in an attempt to lure her out of the house. The book is a rather stark depiction of infatuation gone wrong. Our narrator is narcissistic and some would say an obsessive sociopath.

I was most curious to see how a movie would portray what is, in essence, almost an anti-love story and have it premiere at Valentine’s Day. The answer is obvious – change everything about it.

It’s rare that a movie gives me something I found missing from the book when it’s adapted. The 2014 version of Endless Love did just that. While reading I found myself wanting to see what David and Jade were like together. The book mainly takes place after the fire that causes their separation. We never see them fall in love. We never see if Jade feels the same. We have David’s version of events, and his focus is limited to himself for the most part. He’s a very unreliable narrator, and pretty sure I mentioned borderline sociopath. It was hard to become invested in the relationship because we never experienced it. The movie allowed us this chance. It focuses instead on the build up to the fire. It lets the viewer become invested in each of the characters, and therefore their relationship to each other.

The characters in the movie are quite different from the book, almost to the point of being opposites. Those looking for a faithful adaptation of Scott Spencer’s book will be disappointed. David shows only small similarities to his book counterpart, even if Alex Pettyfer looks the part as described in the book. Movie David is damaged, perhaps a little ‘wrong side of the tracks‘ but mostly decent. He has interests and friends outside of Jade which book David doesn’t even seem as a possibility. For movie David it’s less obsession, and more teen romance dialed up a few notches.

Jade, an enigma in the book, comes alive in the movie. We get to see her, and learn about her. Again the differences between the book character, and movie are striking. Jade’s family is different, and the dynamic they have is changed as a result. Jade and her family are well to do. This reverses the roles from the novel. In the novel, David comes from an affluent family. The story focuses more on her family, and their reasons for keeping her from David. She’s more sheltered, and protected than the headstrong Jade from the book (or so we are led to believe from David’s depiction). Gabriella Wilde matches the description of Jade from the books – blonde, delicate features, pretty. She and Alex Pettyfer certainly have a chemistry that didn’t come across in the books between David and Jade.

The biggest difference between the novel and movie may be how they approach the relationship. The most scarring, damaging aspects of Jade and David’s relationship are either missing, or greatly changed in the movie. In the book, if you’re rooting for them at all, it certainly isn’t for them to be together. The movie however shows you what couples can bring out in each other. It shows how they can compliment, and better each other. It’s quite a contrast, and those looking for a love story will certainly find the movie more to their liking. The book however, offers a twisted peek at the darker side of our natures that is missing completely from the movie. Part of the novel’s allure is in the truth that love does make you crazy, and that part does not comes across at all in the movie.

The book and movie offer two different, and yet equally compelling, looks at love. One is filled with hope and promise. The other shows the darker side of infatuation. It shows how addictive the feelings someone creates within you can be, and how easy it can be to become addicted, and let it devour you. Either offers up the idea that love can be a powerful life changing thing. Your preference may come down to how cynical you are.


Visit Kathy on A Glass of Wine Book Review Blog:
YA book reviews, author interviews, giveaways and more

Follow Kathy on twitter @kathycoe and visit her 50 Book Pledge profile here.

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Digital Marketing Coordinator at HarperCollins Canada. Film, fiction and fashion blog enthusiast. Follow me on twitter @SavvyReader & @ktvncnt.

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