Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dear John *

Director: Lasse Hallström
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Channing Tatum, Richard Jenkins
Henry Thomas, D.J. Cotrona, Cullen Moss, Gavin McCulley

Your knowledge of Nicholas Sparks' work doesn't need to be so extensive to know the kind of movie Dear John will be. His formula of doomed love, life threatening diseases and third act twists has been established in films like A Walk to Remember, Nights in Rodanthe and especially The Notebook.
This one is obviously not different but by now the formula is so established that this one isn't even fun.
The lovers this time are Savannah (Seyfried) and John (Tatum); she's a good girl who doesn't drink, smoke or curse and he's the former rebel now on army leave.
They meet when he rescues her purse after it falls on the ocean, she is so impressed by his lifesaving skills and pecs (after all her "whole life is in that bag") that two weeks later they're already declaring eternal love for each other.
During these two weeks they frolic in the beach, make out under the rain and Savannah even diagnoses John's coin-collecting father (Jenkins who obviously deserved better) as slightly autistic.
When John has to go back into service, they decide they will write each other and keep no secrets, which turns the film into a dull, uninspired version of a Green Day video. For almost half an hour Dear John takes on an epistolary form and the sun tinted, overlong montage that serves as background for the actors' readings, comes to a sudden end on 9/11.
John decides it's his duty to reenlist and their relationship enters a limbo that makes the film take a turn for the worse as it suggests that the evil war is responsible for the leads' tears.
Perhaps nothing about the movie intends to be fresh but little in it makes its existence justifiable. Tatum and Seyfried, while pretty to look at, have no chemistry and never evoke the angst and longing we're supposed to perceive from their tacky Now, Voyager redux quips about the moon.
The issue might not be the actors but the terrible writing which seems reasonable on the surface but might lead to some disturbing and complex realizations from anyone with the slightest analytical capacity.
In the time of instant gratification and e-mail, Savannah and John's love isn't only utterly fantastical but also fake; instead of breaking hearts the movie should serve to stimulate naive minds and make them realize that perhaps this so called love is nothing but fear of commitment represented through the perpetuation of a faux state of romance.
When the reasoning for a life altering decision is justified by saying "you think it was easy without you", it's fair to say that Dear John isn't an ode to the romantic but to the idiotic.


Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Hee. I love you in this snarky register. They make for enjoyable reading.

OT. I don't why, but I remember "Now Voyager" most fondly of all of Bette's performances.

Jose said...

Thank you Andrew, I had such terrible luck at the movies during the weekend hahaha.

I love "Now, Voyager"! I'm guessing it's my third fave Bette performance. It's by far her most romantic though.

Castor said...

"This so called love is nothing but fear of commitment represented through the perpetuation of a faux state of romance."

Shhhhh, don't tell them!!! They might realize it's nothing like the movies

Jose said...

Haha fair enough Castor. But then kids fill their heads with all these ideas that life can never live up to!
They would be better off watching anything Woody Allen made to learn about "love".

Danny King said...

I agree with Andrew. I haven't seen this film (and don't really plan to), but this was a really fun read.

I actually haven't seen any Sparks adaptations to date. What do you think is the one most worth-seeing?

Jose said...

If you insist on watching one, I guess it'd have to be "The Notebook" Danny.
It's contrived, silly and all kinds of corny but the cast is phenomenal and McAdams & Gosling have amazing chemistry.
Still I don't see how anyone (i.e most women I know) could think it's one of the most romantic movies ever, when it's not even the most romantic movie from its year but it has its appeal.
I'm guessing this has a lot to do with the fact that it's based on Sparks' first novel (even if it wasn't the first movie made from one) and his formula only has degraded since.

Also, very glad you enjoyed the read!

Danny King said...

I have heard some pretty good things about "The Notebook," and out of all of his adaptations, McAdams and Gosling are by far the most appealing leads to me.

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