Romeo and Juliet, Jack and Rose, that girl with cancer and that boy with cancer in The Fault in Our Stars – What do they all have in common? At least one of them dies. That is the lesson that I have found about falling in love at a young age. It never ends well. Yet, my ten-year-old self didn’t care. At that point in my life, I had already had at least 15 periods and proudly claimed my status as a woman. As a woman, who had already had torrid affairs with Michael Jackson, Tommy Chong, and even a couple of the girls in Bananarama. I knew the complexities of love. I knew that when you fell in love it was hard, fast, and endless.
As a real grown woman who has suffered through many terrible relationships, I have long forgotten that kind of love existed. My ideas of love faded from living for one destined relationship that would take my breath away to hoping that maybe someone, anyone, might lightly brush their hand against my ass as they walked briskly by me. It sounds dramatic, but that’s what life does to you between teenagedom and adulthood; it kills your dreams.
While sitting at the dinner table with my own teenage daughters, my eldest asked to see a film called “Endless Love.” My reaction to this was, “Why would they remake that movie? It’s perfect!” Suddenly, my inner ten-year-old was jostled awake and I sat resentful at why Hollywood would remake one of the most epic love stories, starring Brooke Shields, along with a couple of little known actors – James Spader and Tom Cruise. Not to mention the superior writing that penned quotes such as:
- But he loved me. He loves me! No one will ever love me as much.
- No one ever thinks they can forget their first love, but we can.
- Just because you’re fucking my sister doesn’t mean you’re part of the family!
I knew this story well and refused to let my daughters see the remake before watching the original. As we settled in to watch the story of two star crossed lovers dramatically unfold, I felt positive that we would need a box of Kleenex, teddy bears, and this would bond the three of us forever. I was wrong.
For those of you who don’t know much about the film, it’s pretty simple. Two teenagers fall in love, are pulled apart by circumstance, and then reunited, but the devil is in the details. The details are what makes a story stand out and, god dang it, I forgot the details!
Shortly after the opening, the director puts us at a party where Brooke Shield’s character, Jade, falls in love with Martin Hewitt’s character, David. Jade is dressed in white with flowers in her hair, cuddled up to her dad in a weird uncomfortable way, that made me feel weird and throw up in my mouth a little. He releases her so she can slowly walk to the stairs where David awaits. A band inside the house starts to sing, “My love, there’s only you in my life, the only thing that’s bright…”
All of that seems normal until, fast forward, David and Jade are making love in the living room. Kisses flood the screen along with Brooke Shields breasts and slightly fuzzy fireplace shots. While the two lovers are entwined, Jade’s mother, Ann, happens upon them. Instead of screaming, “What the hell are you doing to my daughter?” Ann quietly watches her daughter make love to David. Gross.
As the movie went on, I sat watching my daughters’ faces shift from interested to disgusted to confused to horrified. What began as a simple night of mother-daughter bonding slowly morphed into a game of What the Hell is Wrong with My Mother?
The affair becomes all consuming for both teens. Eventually Jade starts failing at school and starts stealing her parents prescription drugs to deal with her workload (and all the banging she’s doing). Her parents get very upset and this starts the downward spiral of the relationship. My inner 10-year-old ached over Jade’s emotion as she is being torn from her true love. My now-mother-of-two-teens self thought, “Mmmm. Xanax.”
After the breakup, David wants to find a way back into the family good graces, so he sets their house on fire. Crazy? Yes. He sets their house on fire in hopes to rescue the family and make them see how much he cares. Lesson here? Even though your boyfriend burns down your house, leaving your family homeless, try to remember that he still loves you.
After a few years, David is released from prison. He tries to find Jade, starting with locating her mother. Good ol’ Ann, alone with David, tells him how she’s written a book inspired by the time she watched David and Jade have sex. Gross. Instead of her acknowledging that this is a horrifying thing to do, she tries to seduce him. The thing to remember here is that even though your mother loves you, she will still try to nail your bae when he’s out of jail for burning your house down.
David refuses the advance because he still loves Jade, but he accidentally ends up killing her dad. An abrupt turn? I agree, but as I said before love kills. David is eventually reunited with Jade. A joyful moment for David, but a horribly frightening one to me. David passionately expresses his feelings for Jade. He tells her about how long he’s been trying to get in touch with her, how much she has meant to him, how much he loves and needs her, skipping the your-dad-is-dead part.
Again, my inner ten-year-old is aroused. Her insides are scooped out moved by the pain in David’s voice. Her eyes move across the screen as David grabs Jade by her arms and screams in her face. Jade’s tears rolling on her cheeks trying to deny that she, too, loves him. He throws her against all the surfaces – the door, the wall, the bed, the cabinets, the floors, the windows… until she says, “I do love you!”
I realized my ten-year-old self was an idiot. She would refer to this scene as deeply romantic, I would call it an assault.
Towards the end of the film, I could sense all of our bodies relaxing knowing that it would soon be over. Jade’s brother breaks the tension between the two lovers by bursting into the apartment, revealing that their dad’s dead and he believes it to be David’s fault. The police arrive, there’s a fight, and David goes back to jail. The final scene of the film is Jade talking to her mom before heading out to visit David.
After the film is over, we quietly turned off the tv, without making eye contact, then silently and awkwardly stepped away from the living room. I felt terrible. I wanted to spend time with my daughters; to lose myself in their world of romance; to regain that achy feeling of profoundly inspiring love. Instead, I left them with the idea that even if your mom is a creep, your dad is dead, and your boyfriend is a psychopath who burned your house down, you should love always them endlessly.