Endings, Beginnings review: Solemn sex with silly men - and a stonking soundtrack

Charlotte O'Sullivan
·2-min read

A US indie drama in which a boho thirtysomething from LA, Daphne (Shailene Woodley), gets involved with two gorgeous blokes (Jamie Dornan and Sebastian Stan, better known in a very different role as Bucky Barnes/the Winter Soldier in the Avengers series) and complains about the fact that she’s living in her sister’s pool house.

She looks pensive as she wanders around the perfect, shimmering water. Serious piano music thunders as she has sex with the men, who, by the way, are best friends. For whole chunks at a time, this offering from Drake Doremus (best known for the 2011 gem, Like Crazy) is trite and ridiculously solemn. That said, it’s not a total disaster.

The acting, for starters, is stupendously organic. You expect subtlety from Woodley, but it’s a pleasant surprise to see Dornan (such a robotic plonker in the Fifty Shades of Grey movies) walking and talking like a human being. He seems to know that his character, Jack, is nice but also vaguely ludicrous and seizes on every chance to explore Jack’s fear of intimacy. Watch Dornan’s face as Jack explains why his last relationship failed. Jack’s girlfriend used dental floss in their bathroom. Oh, the horror, the horror!

The soundtrack has its moments, too. It’s not often the band Lambchop gets a shout-out (Daphne listens to a playlist called “songs to suffer to” and whoever compiled it genuinely loves music).

As for the script, it gets better. Near the end, we learn about one of Daphne’s past sexual encounters and the impact is muffled, and horrific, in just the right way. Much of the dialogue, apparently, was improvised. In this section of the movie, Woodley seems to have learned useful lessons from her time on the TV series Big Little Lies.

While not as gritty or profound as Rachel Getting Married or last month’s Saint Frances, this portrait of a wayward woman deserves a second glance. If you can sit through to the end (a huge if), you’ll be pleased that you did.

On digital HD