15 Jul 2020

Movie review: Endings Beginnings

From At The Movies, 7:31 pm on 15 July 2020

Endings Beginnings finds Shailene Woodley torn between the rival merits of Jamie Dornan and Sebastian Stan. Is this Jules and Jim for the millennial generation?

Simon Morris: The best way to describe the audience for Endings Beginnings is it's for people who can tell the difference between Jamie Dornan and Sebastian Stan.

Irishman Dornan is best known as the spanking billionaire in 50 Shades of Grey, while Stan was Bucky, Captain America's tortured buddy.

But they look - to the untutored eye - pretty much identical. And also rather like our heroine Daphne's recently dumped ex, Adrian.

Daphne is played by Shailene Woodley, who you may remember from the TV series Big Little Lies.

Having dumped Adrian for the unforgivable sin of not being The One, Daphne's encouraged to cut her social life back a bit by Kyra Sedgwick, who's sadly never seen again.

Treating this advice with the contempt it deserves, Daphne goes straight to a party where she meets Jack.

Owing to the fact that the light is rather dim pretty much throughout Endings Beginnings, I struggled to work out which one this was. But the Irish accent gives Jack away. He's Jamie Dornan and immediately muted sparks fly.

Daphne's interest in travel and new cultures is a surprise. She'd never shown any interest in anyone else up until now.

Could Jack be The One, or is that singular role to be played by Jack's best friend Frank?

That's Frank who's played - you've guessed it - by Sebastian Stan, a man with a nice line in chat-up. Though it's the sort of chat-up that makes neighbouring chaps wonder how he gets away with it?

Clearly his superpower is the ability to say this sort of stuff with a straight face.

I suspect that much of the dialogue between the constituent parts of our Eternal Triangle is improvised. I certainly see no evidence that the romantic interplay has had much prior thought put into it.

But on the basis of these conversations, it seems Daphne can see competing attractions in these two that may elude anyone outside the Endings Beginnings demographic.

Jack, I deduce, is decent and reasonable, a safe pair of hands if you like. Though he's capable of putting the boot in when required.

On the other hand, Frank - this film has put absolutely no effort into the names of its characters - anyway Frank is fiery and unpredictable. The sort of person who'll dump a pet dog on you with no warning, then suddenly return to drag you off to bed.

Endings Beginnings is the work of a writer-director spectacularly named Drake Doremus - perhaps that's why he prefers more mundane names for his characters - who seems to specialize in romance for millennials.

The best description of this genre is it's like a ping-pong match, with Jack and Frank as the bats and Daphne as the ping-pong ball.

The fact that, to me at any rate, her two swains are as alike as two Emperor penguins only confuses matters.

But the fact is, female Emperor penguins can tell the difference, so we can only hope Daphne finds her Mr Right.

Let her have the last word, with some typically well-thought-out philosophy.

Get the RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes

Subscribe to At The Movies

Podcast (MP3) Oggcast (Vorbis)