TIFF19 – Shailene Woodley is a Hopeless and Sympathetic Hot Mess in ‘Endings, Beginnings’

In his latest feature, Endings, Beginnings, Drake Doremus once again explores his favourite topic: modern love and heartbreak. This time, we follow Daphne (Shailene Woodley), a young woman navigating the aftermath of a breakup. She is bright and charismatic, but directionless. That is until she meets two men who shake up her world. 

Doremus is rather kind to his protagonist, who is much better off than the average millennial. Daphne narrowly escapes being unsympathetic by the sheer will of Shailene Woodley’s genuine presence. Woodley is in her element with an artsy, flirty, and introspective performance. She has truly found her niche for playing well-meaning, yet troubled women. Doremus and Woodley do a lot to never judge their protagonist, and inject enough realism and consideration to portray the feeling of being hurt, and directionless. Sometimes bad decisions are part of the growing process, which can sometimes feel never-ending (as Woodley’s character expresses).

The film is elevated by Doremus’ signature style, which somehow feels both cold and comforting. It’s a difficult balancing act, but it does a lot to get us into Daphne’s headspace. Like his previous films, Doremus casts some impossibly attractive people to play flawed, but likeable individuals. In the nice guy corner is Jaime Dornan as Jack – the stable and sound choice. In the bad boy corner is Sebastian Stan as Frank, the man who sets off all the alarms in your head when you first meet him. The two men perfectly capture the two halves of Daphne, the half that longs for comfort and the half that longs for passion.

This trio of actors are perfectly cast in their respective roles, and work well together to paint a pretty picture of how difficult it is to choose what to chase in life: does one chase a love that is stable, or a love that is passionate? Or perhaps there is a different kind of love that is the answer to Daphne’s problems.

This film will certainly not be for everyone, but it will resonate with those who have an inkling of what it’s like to be lost. It’s an alluring drama that is handsomely shot, well-acted, intimate and depicts the messiness of modern relationships.

Endings, Beginnings premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and has yet to be acquired for distribution.

by Ferdosa Abdi

Ferdosa Abdi is a lifelong film student and aspiring film festival programmer. Her favourite genres are science-fiction, fantasy, and horror and her favourite director is Guillermo del Toro. She is madly in love with Eva Green and believes she should be cast in everything. You can follow Ferdosa on Twitter @atomicwick

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