A love triangle between a woman searching for “The One” and two men who are polar opposites may be something we’ve seen many times before, but a grounded, melancholic atmosphere and brilliantly vulnerable performances from the core cast help Drake Doremus’ Endings, Beginnings stand out from the crowd.

Shailene Woodley is Daphne, an artist struggling to find work. She moves into her sister’s pool house after breaking up with long-term boyfriend Adrian (Matthew Gray Gubler), and vows to go it alone for a while. Her plan is foiled when she falls for both intellectual “good guy” Jack (Jamie Dornan) and his charming, chaotic friend Frank (Sebastian Stan, finally given enough screen time to really shine). 

There are some romantic clichés to wade through, but among them is much to admire; the chemistry between Woodley and Stan sets the pulse racing, and Doremus’ improvisational approach with the actors results in conversations that feel stylised yet intensely naturalistic. The film is also quietly sexually political – a #MeToo subplot is somewhat crowbarred in, but the love scenes manage nods to consent, female pleasure and even the sticky realism of sex, while also conveying truth about the characters and their dynamics.

Marianne Bakke’s cinematography and the music by Philip Ekström are the beating heart of Endings, Beginnings. There’s a cool, muted quality to the visuals that add to the sensuality and drama, and the combination of Ekström’s racing piano motif with a synthy, moody soundtrack is an evocative embodiment of a playlist Frank sends Daphne after he first meets her, titled ‘Music to Suffer To’.

With the lightest of directorial touches from Doremus, and Shailene Woodley’s total immersion in the lead role, Endings, Beginnings blends relatable dating dilemmas with swooning romance to provide a drama that will sweep you away, if you let it. 


Available to watch on: VOD


CAST: Shailene Woodley, Sebastian Stan, Jamie Dornan

DIRECTOR: Drake Doremus

WRITERS: Jardine Libaire, Drake Doremus

SYNOPSIS: 30-something artist Daphne’s plan to spend some time alone after a breakup is interrupted when she falls for two friends that give her very different things.