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‘Endings, Beginnings’ Makes Millennial Love Look Lousy

The film's pro-family subplot is the only curve ball thrown in this sordid tale

Wanna spend time with three gene pool lottery winners?

You’ve got our attention.

Now, imagine all three are as vapid as they are attractive.

Still game?

“Endings, Beginnings” is blessed with three talented stars and a crush of banal musings on life and love. It’s like suffering through digital pics from a friend’s new romance. You nod, and say, “oh, that’s nice,” while secretly wishing the show would end already.

Only “Endings, Beginnings” goes on, and on.

At least there’s sex, a fair amount of it by modern movie standards. That, and a surprisingly conservative third act, can’t salvage a film with so little to say or share.

Endings, Beginnings - Official Trailer - Shailene Woodley, Jamie Dornan, & Sebastian Stan

Daphne (Shailene Woodley) is a walking Millennial cliche. She’s under-employed, self entitled and thinks her ornate little teapots are the makings of a career in the arts.

She’s also as obsessed with boys as Tina Belcher. Daphne left her last relationship for fuzzy reasons, and now she’s swearing off both men and booze to clear her mind.

That pledge lasts a New York minute.

FAST FACT: Jamie Dornan sang in that much maligned “Imagine” celebrity video. He says he joined the effort at the request of pal Kristen Wiig and performed his part of the song in his bathroom.

She soon meets not one but two handsome gents who fall hard for her generic musings and couch surfing ways. But there’s a catch. Frank (Sebastian Stan) and Jack (Jamie Dornan) happen to be best buds, a situation which doesn’t give Daphne pause.

Gosh, they’re both so darn cute, she silently screams as she hops from one bed to the next. She only stops long enough to wonder if she made a mistake dumping her old beau.

Confused? You betcha. And that’s perfectly fine, assuming we cared about Daphne or her mental state. We don’t watch movie romances expecting everyone to share our moral compass. But for the love of Hanks and Ryan they’ve gotta be interesting.

Daphne doesn’t make the “Interesting” meter hit red through much of the film. Heck, the needle barely moves. 

Endings, Beginnings - I Know You - Shailene Woodley & Sebastian Stan

Early on, Daphne suggests women her age are often travel the world or join the Peace Corps, but we know she’ll do neither.

That would show something resembling grit. She is game, though, for smoking as many cigarettes as she can in under two hours of screen time. Joe Camel might slap on a nicotine patch after enduring “Endings, Beginnings.”

Frank and Jack, as depicted here, aren’t much better than the bland Daphne. So watching them go on sun-splashed dates with her makes us pine for the nearest flat surface and pillow.

The film’s dialogue, partly improvised, doesn’t elevate director Drake Doremus’ tale, and that’s being gentle.

ENDINGS, BEGINNINGS Cast and Crew Q&A | TIFF 2019

Now, lovers are allowed to make mistakes on screen. They’re human. Still, seeing three bland beauties behave as if friendship and loyalty mean less than nothing is, well, creepy.

A ripe piece of dialogue tells us Frank and Jack offer something different, and vital, for Daphne. Darned if we can see it, though. They’re mostly interchangeable, and their decade-plus friendship is glossed over by the screenplay.

We also need more of Wendie Malick, cast as Daphne’s unstable Ma. Her character holds a key to her daughter’s back story, but their bond only clicks in the final moments.

Along the way “Endings, Beginnings” serves up karaoke songs, Hallmark Card-style glances and adults who keep forgetting about the consequences from casual hookups.

“Endings, Beginnings” packs a sneaky conservative punch in the third act. It would be far better if it included a pro-entertainment angle along the way, 

HiT or Miss: “Endings, Beginnings” squanders three charismatic stars in a love triangle that never grabs our attention.

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