Review: Dear John
PLOT: A buff-stuff, pretty boy soldier on leave named John (Channing Tatum), falls in love with gorgeous goodie-goodie type Savannah (Amanda Seyfried). They date for two weeks till he goes back in the field. They both continue their relationship via letters written to each other. Got to love long distance romances... it of course goes bumpy.
REVIEW: I'm a sucker for a good love story (don't tell anybody); THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, LOVE STORY and A WALK TO REMEMBER are some of my favorites within the genre. So I was hoping for some tissue abusing good times with DEAR JOHN (directed by Lasse Hallström ), based on a novel by sap master Nicholas Sparks (THE NOTEBOOK and A WALK TO REMEMBER), sadly that didn't happen. That's not to say the ingredients weren't there. The initial premise showed promise; long distance relationships is something that many of us have gone through and for a moment there the film succeeded in tapping into the emotions that comes with that sort of courtship: loneliness, longing and the pure joy that accompanies finally seeing your love one again, if not for a brief moment.
The cast on hand did the best they could with the little meat they were given to play with. Channing Tatum gave his best performance to date; subtle, intense when he needed to be and affable, I couldn't help but like the dude and hope the best for him. On her end uber-photogenic Amanda Seyfried, was basically the incarnation of the girlfriend we all wished we had (well I wish I had); not only in terms of her striking looks, but the character's kind heart, passionate streak and care free demeanor also made sure that it wasn't only John falling in love with the dame, this dink was too. Both actors shared a genuine chemistry together and it was that vibe that would often save the film from itself and keep me invested to some degree.
Alas, the storytelling skills here were a mess and no amount of pretty visuals (loved Hallström's eye, specially the use of close ups), sweet montages of love at play or heart tugging guitar picking ditties could Band-Aid that. Our two leads were often forced in situations that were poorly developed and solely dare to prompt phony drama. It made the actors look bad (the random bad dialogue didn't help either). Even their surroundings came off as manufactured. Henry Thomas and Richard Jenkins brought validity to their roles via their talent but their relationship with John rarely scratched the surface, they were just there to plant obvious seeds for conflict to come... conflict that often fell short in affecting me. Furthermore, the movie failed big time when it came to communicating the passing of time, the leads "growing up" (the film spans seven years) and the ever growing tension between our two love birds as they are apart. Some of the key turns that arose could have been avoided if our romantic duo just sat down and talked, like really talked and figured it out, sadly the film wouldn't even give them that room.
And what was up with Savannah being out of the picture for so long down the road? If more time would have been spent exploring what she was going through on her side of the wrestling heart, some of the late twists would have had some impact instead of coming out of left field and leaving me cold. Lastly this one didn't know when to end, every time I thought it was over, bump. another turn and here we go again...wrap it up already! Look I didn't read the book, so I can't comment in that respect but I hope it does a better job at conveying a fleshed out and honest story, than this all over the place, lets not develop anything and hope the audience goes with it anyways feature film. I'm usually moved by a good lovey-dovey movie, specially when the romance goes wrong (like my life)... I rarely was with this one hence - FAILED
My rating 5/10 -- John Fallon aka The Arrow
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|Extra Tidbit:||Amanda Seyfried auditioned for the lead in "Veronica Mars" (2004) but lost out to Kristen Bell.|