Written by: Hannah Tran | August 12th, 2020
Endless (Scott Speer, 2020) 1½ out of 4 stars.
Endless, the latest movie from Scott Speer (I Still See You), is a teen romance where teenagers deal with all the usual teenage problems. The young lovers at its center struggle to connect with their parents, fight with their friends, and feel unable to pursue their creative passions. The difference here, however, is that one of them is dead. After being separated from her boyfriend, Chris, following a tragic car accident, Riley tries to live her life with him gone, but soon learns she may not have to after Chris finds a way to connect with her from the limbo in which he is stuck. A combination of typical teen tropes and fresh fantasy elements, Endless may offer a touching story about the strength of love, but unfortunately, its presentation often falls flat and its emotions often feel excessively saccharine.
While the majority of the performances are largely forgettable, X-Men star Alexandra Shipp gives a vigorous performance as Riley, and her transformation as she moves through and out of the grieving process is genuinely moving to watch. Her co-star, Nicholas Hamilton (It) also manages to shine in a handful of moments, and the ultimate acceptance of his death and inability to move further in any of his mortal relationships makes for many of the most affecting moments in either of their stories. But whatever mood the film attempts to set early on, the purgatory that Chris is sent to switches its direction.
Much of this is due to an almost total loss of any visual appeal that is present in Riley’s side of the narrative. It’s also partly due to the superhero-esque effects used to needlessly demonstrate all of the new physical perks there are to being nonphysical. But while so many of the superficial elements of the purgatory city feel somewhat childish, the larger problem lies in its lack of rules. The parameters of the purgatory world are so poorly laid out that many of the consequences of Chris’s reconnection to Riley feel completely illogical and often come about at times that could only ever make them feel like afterthoughts added only to weakly increase the stakes.
On the other end of the narrative, Riley is also forced to deal with a number of subplots that also feel like overly formulaic attempts to heighten the film’s tension, most obviously with a half-hearted police investigation that seems intent on pinning Chris’s death on her. For the majority of the runtime, these additional elements feel inconsequential, static and useless to the plot at hand. Once all these loose ends are tied up, however, it does inevitably manage to feel as though they added to the ultimate feeling of fulfillment at the end of the story.
That being said, it never feels as though the characters did much work to move them to that point of conclusion. While perhaps slightly manipulative, the emotions at the heart of Endless often do ring true. And once Endless does reach its end, it succeeds in finding a sweet perspective on lost love that will undoubtedly touch the hearts of anyone who chooses to watch it in the first place.