Starring Alex Pettyfer, Garbriella Wilde & Rhys Wakefield
Remember Franco Zeffirelli’s mindblowingly mawkish 1981 forbidden love story which was adapted from Scott Spencer’s smart and steamy book of the same name (think Blue Is The Warmest Colour for straight kids)? Well, neither does this writer. In fact that movie could have completely vanished had it not been for two notable facts – it boasts Tom Cruise’s first appearance on the big screen and it’s theme song was , unlike the movie, a worldwide hit sung by Lionel Ritchie & Diana Ross (and a hit again for Luthor Vandross & Mariah Carey).
In this new take Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde play star-crossed lovers David and Jade. She is a drop dead gorgeous rich girl princess and aspiring medical student (do they exist?) who falls (hilariously instantly) super duper in love with a charismatic hunk from the wrong side of the tracks who harbours a bad past and irresistible grin.
Helmed by Shana Feste and written & produced by the creative team behind the hit show Gossip Girl, together they’ve overhauled the original story to fit a pitch as ‘The Notebook’ for the Twilight generation as well as anyone who likes a bit of teen angst with their syrupy romance.
And you know what? They Succeed. If I was a 14 year-old Teen Vogue reading, One Tree Hill watching, Top Shopping, One Directioner fangirl with a candy floss view of love then this movie would be for me. I would greet every cheese ball declaration with a gush instead of an eye-roll and every outrageously incredulous twist in the plot with a gasp instead of a guffaw. Also, the majority of the audience I saw it with were 20 something women who seemed to relish it with the same ‘laughing-at-but-loving-it’ kind of self aware ironic enjoyment that 20 something men would feel whilst watching dumb-fun dick flicks such as Drive Angry or Crank, so if a movie is working perfectly on a junk food level instead of being a complete stinker then it would be elitist of me to write it off as a dud.
Though there was so much that made me cringe and tisk about this movie there were tiny pockets of actual fun. Dayo Okeniyi (Thresh in The Hunger Games) who plays Mace the token sassy Black best friend is actually funny and there’s a feeling of spontaneity to his performance that makes him feel more real as a character rather than a cog to move the story like most of the characters in this movie felt like. Sure he’s the comic relief but his presence was a welcomed buoy of fun in a sea of schmaltz. The Chance Crawford-esque Rhys Wakefield plays Jade’s brother Keith, the black sheep of the family and he sells the hokey dialogue with a performance that see-saws from charmingly impish to genuine pathos. Plaudits aside, the only real acting clunker unfortunately goes to Wilde who is as utterly gorgeous as she’s theatrically wooden.
If you like your love stories naive and soppy, your leading actors as achingly pretty as they are achingly played out and a derisively funny Jenga stack of cheese upon cheese then this is the Valentine’s event movie for you.