Dear John: Movie Review
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Based on Nicholas Sparks' novel, Dear John is a romantic drama about young lovers whose relationship is tested by separation. At one point, moviegoers may even think back to The Notebook, as Dear John similarly focuses on a love broken by war and includes a kissing scene in the rain.
Up-and-coming actors Channing Tatum (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) and Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!) take the lead roles, with Lasse Hallström (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?) directing.
Dear John in a Minute
It just takes two weeks for them to fall in love. While at home on leave, John, a young Army Special Forces solider, meets the girl of his dreams, a college coed named Savannah. Instead of getting out of the military when his time is up, John re-enlists after the attacks on September 11, 2001. The long distance between them is shortened through a series of love letters they send to each other, but the time spent apart begins to wear on their relationship.
The Good and Not-so Good of Dear John
Director Lasse Hallström delivers a competent version of Nicholas Sparks' story about relationships, not just between John and Savannah, but also the young soldier and his father. And although eyes are sure to well up, this new film is just too familiar to stand out.
If you’ve seen the theatrical trailer for Dear John, then you know how Savannah and John meet. One-upping Savannah’s wanna-be boyfriend, John rescues her purse after it falls from a pier. They get to talking and all of a sudden the sparks begin to fly. Savannah is intrigued by John, and he’s amazed at her beauty and character.
The events of 9/11 change everything, as John decides to re-enlist instead of returning home to Charleston, S.C., for good. Before he leaves, they agree to write to each other as often as possible. Their love is illustrated time and again as they read each message, until the letters stop coming.
Audiences will agree; the star of Dear John is Amanda Seyfried as Savannah. She adds emotional depth to the character, begging moviegoers to like her despite some of the decisions she makes. Her talent is ultimately showcased as she sings “Little House”, an orginial song written for the film by the young actress herself.
As a romantic movie, it is expected that Dear John may include some sexual content. However, this critic was not expecting what was shown on screen. Before Savannah lets John leave to join his team in Afghanistan, they sleep together. There is a lot of skin, including a shot where John's arm is barely blocking the audience's view of Savannah's unclothed chest.
One plus for the film is that it didn’t cross the line with regards to fidelity in marriage. When two of the characters are tempted to commit adultery, they resist it.
Dear John's PG-13 rating also is for the war violence it shows. During one scene, audiences will see an upclose view of a man getting shot multiple times.
At 1 hour and 42 minutes, Dear John isn't that long compared to other films we've seen come out of Hollywood recently. However, it does seem to drag. The ending -- with the resolution of John and Savannah's relationship -- also is rushed.
In the End
With more heartwarming and memorable love stories already captured on film, Dear John runs the risk of being forgotten after it leaves theaters.
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