Year:  2019

Director:  Drake Doremus

Rated:  MA

Release:  Out Now

Distributor: Rialto

Running time: 110 minutes

Worth: $15.00
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

Shailene Woodley, Jamie Dornan, Sebastian Stan

…an LA relationship drama with TV sensibilities redeemed by a sublime performance from [Shailene] Woodley that shirks off any trace of big-city moral superiority.

Prolific filmmaker Drake Doremus’ (of Sundance-winning Like Crazy fame, and more recently Zoe, Equals, and the similarly themed Newness) depicts through a boho-voyeuristic lens the existentialist slog of twenty-something-year-olds in the Shailene Woodley lead indie-drama Endings, Beginnings.

Navigating her way from one fairy-light illuminated party to another (the unashamedly hawty-tawty LA-ness of which demands an artisan cheese board at all gatherings), downtrodden and recently unemployed art-enthusiast Daphne (Woodley) yearns for a sense of fulfilment that – for at least the short term – exists outside of alcohol and dating.

Daphne’s reassessment of the relationships in her life – realised in both the familial and the romantic – leads her to a lifestyle overhaul; the detoxing of said vices aiming to alleviate her fear of complacency.

Daphne’s ‘sabbatical’ proves short-lived with the arrival of eligible suitors Frank (Sebastian Stan) and Jack (Jamie Dornan) – both of whom possess contrasting virtues appealing to Daphne’s emotional needs, throwing her plans of re-establishing herself into a dizzying tailspin.

Doremus and fellow screenwriter Jardine Libaire (an author writing her first produced screenplay) convincingly refute the central triviality of Daphne’s ensuing love triangle by offering a compelling introspection on millennial self-actualisation.

For Daphne, relationships surface deep-seated feelings of discomfort, a byproduct that she attributes to the turbulent relationship she has with her mother (Wendie Malick). The forever astute Woodley brings to life her character’s vulnerabilities with the same ardent conviction that has been long present throughout the talented actor’s career.

Self-destructive tendencies don’t so much as capture Daphne’s complexity as they reveal her desire for emotional fulfilment. It proves but a welcome departure from the litany of taxing films which convey curt and short-sighted behaviour as spirited redemptions and reward vanity.

That said, there remains an innate HBO quality to Endings, Beginnings’ portrayal of Gen Y liberalism that ultimately detracts from the film’s exploration of relationships. The lasting taste of which begs to question Endings, Beginnings’ positioning as a theatrical release, with the film’s under-developed characters – sidelined in lieu of slow-burning motif, alt-rock anthems from the coolest bands you’ve never heard of (aside from an unexpected cover), coy text-play to denote the fracturing of contemporary communication, and showcasing non-committal as an act of progressivism – perhaps better serviced in a limited series format.

In a time where mini-series rival the quality of theatrical filmmaking, Endings, Beginnings exists on the opposing end of the spectrum; an LA relationship drama with TV sensibilities redeemed by a sublime performance from Woodley that shirks off any trace of big-city moral superiority.

Available to rent via Foxtel Store now. Available to rent On Demand from July 15 via multiple platforms.


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