There’s a lot going on in Drake Doremus’s flawed, serious-minded movie about relationships and personal growth – more going on, in fact, that can be successfully expressed in the running time. But this is a decently intended film from a director whose 2011 drama Like Crazy I liked very much.
Daph (Shailene Woodley) is, in the words of the song, torn between two lovers. Coming off a traumatic breakup, she has quit her job and left her apartment in LA and returned to live, mortifyingly, in the pool-house belonging to her married sister Billie (Lindsay Sloane) and quite close to her demanding mother Sue (Wendie Malick). But at a party Daph meets two unfeasibly handsome guys who are best friends and totally into her: soulful intellectual Jack (Jamie Dornan) and moody bad boy Frank (Sebastian Stan).
They are both bearded and gorgeous. One appeals to Daph’s cerebral side and the other to her sensuality; they also look so hilariously alike that it isn’t easy to decide if this is some sort of deliberate satire or symbolism, or even some delusional nightmare. Daph doesn’t want to two-time either suitor but gets into a messy situation with both, and then realises she has been psychologically suppressing a painful experience back in LA that drove her here in the first place.
This is an earnest kind of a film with a distinctive editing mannerism: heart-to-heart conversations are often portrayed in an “ambient-mood” style: single shots of people talking will suddenly jump cut to a different phase of the conversation where they are thoughtfully silent, while the audio speech track continues unbroken – as if they have suddenly taken up ventriloquism – and then cut back to them talking. It’s a bit gimmicky.
The film’s problem is the LA situation. Daph concedes that this overwhelming issue will have to be confronted – and yet it is finally relegated to an afterthought, as she finds closure with all her other problem. Well, it’s a good performance from Woodley.
• Endings, Beginnings is on digital platforms from 7 August.
Source: The Guardian