“Endings, Beginnings” is the newest film from Drake Doremus, who previously directed “Like Crazy” (2011) and “Equals” (2015). The film made its debut on streaming platforms April 17, after its release in theaters was postponed due to COVID-19.
The film follows Daphne (Shailene Woodley) as she navigates life post-breakup while living in her sister Billie's (Lindsay Sloane) pool house in Los Angeles. Her original plan to abstain from men and drinking alcohol gets flipped on its head shortly after she meets Frank (Sebastian Stan) and Jack (Jamie Dornan) during Billie's New Year’s Eve party.
After talking to Frank via text and going on a date with Jack, Daphne discovers through Frank that the pair are best friends. Although she told Frank she didn’t want to become a wedge in his and Jack’s friendship, that’s exactly what she ends up doing.
As the film continues to unravel, Daphne faces many trials when it comes to the two men she finds herself falling for. She had various opportunities to tell Jack she was also seeing, texting and having sex with Frank, but chose not to. At one point she cut Frank off completely, which came as a surprise to me, but it didn’t last long.
For a while, it was very back-and-forth for Daphne and I didn’t think she’d ever figure out the web of deception she was stringing for herself would come back to bite her. However, she begins facing harsh realities within the last 45 minutes of the film, involving her relationship with both Frank and Jack.
At one point, Daphne finally admits to Jack that she’s done blaming her actions on her childhood and her rocky relationship with her mother. She also admits the idea of facing this is terrifying, but ultimately knows she needs to in order to heal and move forward. On top of this admission, she started righting all the wrongs in her life.
While the plot of the movie seemed like something out of a fanfiction, it held my attention the entire time. The character portrayals by Woodley, Stan and Dornan delved into the rawness of relationships and navigating life in one's thirties. I credit this rawness to the film being loosely based on the outline Doremus had written, with the rest being improvisation by the actors.
What bugged me with “Endings, Beginnings” was that the frame switches were jumpy and the dialogue between characters sometimes didn’t match up with what was being shown of them. However, I was able to look past these minor issues and focus on the bigger picture Doremus was trying to get across.
I’m not ashamed to admit I went into “Endings, Beginnings” for Sebastian Stan. However, by the time the credits rolled, I was left in awe of the story it told and how Daphne came into her own self-realization by the end of the film. Albeit messy at times, “Endings, Beginnings” serves as a gentle reminder that life is also messy and unpredictable. It lets viewers know that although life may not be perfect at the moment, they are exactly where they're supposed to be.