An indie-twist on a classic love story, Endings, Beginnings, while managing to craft a unique style that sets itself apart from similar stories, still falls into some of the clichés of the romance genre.
Fans of independent films will quickly recognise some of the stylistic choices in Endings, Beginnings from similar introspective indies. With quick and experimental editing mid-conversation and jumps in time and location so erratic and subtle that they’re reminiscent of a memory, a strong sense of style is clear from the start. But despite the slightly experimental form, the film often feels a little style over substance, as the story it depicts is still one that’s relatively simple.
Fans of young adult romances are more likely to appreciate this film. Between its veteran young heartthrob cast including Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars, the Divergent series) Jamie Dornan (the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy) and Sebastian Stan (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) the film tells a strikingly modern love story of a young woman adrift in life – stuck between two polar opposite men and unsure of which life she wants to live.
The film’s premise is straight forward: a young woman, Daphne (Woodley), after breaking up with her long-term boyfriend and quitting her job moves into her sister’s house. Lost in life and directionless, she meets two men at a New Year’s Eve party – the mysterious bad boy Frank and the clean-cut, charming, writer Jack. But just to make things more complicated, Jack and Frank are best friends, with Daphne having to mauver her own love life around their complicated friendship.
For those who love a good love story (with a little bit of heartbreak along the way), Endings, Beginnings holds up with good performances from its rising star cast as they progress to more adult roles, weaving a messy web of life and love and everything in between. But to those less attuned to romance films, this one might feel a bit lacking. While the leading performances are more mature than some of the actors’ more notable career staples, the story often feels muddled – losing itself in its own dream-like narrative.
The film’s use of jump cuts in intimate scenes and abrupt flashbacks to memories during pivotal moments for Woodley’s Daphne, while largely responsible for its unique style, often detracted from a lot of important plot points. With many key developments in the characters’ lives being included in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments, the film almost punishes viewers who lose interest as its story starts to fizzle out and wind into less engaging directions. While the performances from the talented cast were impressively subtle and understated for a romantic film, the way the story around them was told often times took away from their work.
Despite these shortcomings, the film does tell an important story about empowerment through a flawed protagonist – showing audiences that it’s ok to be lost in life as we find our way. Woodley’s performance stands out as a moment of growth in her career and is only disadvantaged by the film not letting us experience her highs and lows in her search for love deeply enough to truly understand what she is going through.
A fitting millennial love story for this current generation of romantics, Endings, Beginnings is worth the watch for fans of complicated love-triangles; but might not be quite as exciting if love stories aren’t your thing.