Thursday, 15 April 2010

Dear John: Love letters in the trenches

Film Review: Dear John

Dear John the movie is based on the book by Nicholas Sparks, and with many of Nicholas Sparks novels you can expect the same thematics... romance, love found, love lost, separation and tragedy. I don't think I've ever read a novel where I didn't shed at least one tear...

Dear John tells the story of Special Forces Army Sergeant, John Tyree (Channing Tatum) who whilst on leave meets college student Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried) after rescuing her bag from the sea. The couple's love blossoms over two weeks as John helps the conscientious Savannah build a rescue home, and Savannah helps to heal John's fractured relationship with his autistic father (Richard Jenkins).

The love struck pair are separated when John has to return to duty, but promises to return to Savannah after completing his enlistment. They promise each other they will write letters, and over the course of year they reveal their feelings, hopes and dreams of being reunited. The 9/11 attacks force a series of life changing decisions for the couple as John re-enlists and the separation threatens to tear the relationship apart.

The film left me feeling a little bemused as the latter events unfolded, how accurate it is to the book I'm not sure but the direction of the story left me feeling confused. The lead performances were convincing, Seyfried was charming as the picture perfect wholesome all- American girl and Tatum looked the part as a surfer and Sergeant.

The star performer of the film to me was Richard Jenkins as John's autistic father, he played the role perfectly it was understated yet extremely powerful. Many actors might have felt the need to 'over act' yet Jenkins fragile approach completely won over. One particular scene with Tatum and Jenkins was extremely powerful as John reads a letter to his father as he lays in a hospital bad after suffering a stroke. The scene left me mascara streaked and with an aching heart as both actors delivered an emotive, heartfelt and engaging scene.

Dear John will certainly appeal to the more romantic minded cinema goers but they may feel like me, a little agitated at the storyline. The best Sparks adapted films to this day have to be The Notebook and A Walk to Remember and I'm afraid Dear John falls short of being a truly good romantic led movie.

SGS Rating: ** (and a half)/5

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