Venturing into an area of film I wouldn’t normally take interest in, I watched Dear John. Any film that knocks a film like Avatar off the top of the US Box Office deserves a look into. Dear John was popular enough to make back its $25 million production budget in the first weekend of release – I approached the film with some trepidation but I figured the statistics were justification enough for spending 105 minutes of my time watching a romantic drama. Dear John is an adaptation of a novel by Nicholas Sparks set in 2000 that tells the story of John (Channing Tatum), a soldier in the Army Special Forces who falls in love with college student Savannah (Amanda Seyfried) whilst he is on leave. Complicating their relationship is the 9/11 attack which means that John will have to decide between returning home indefinitely or continuing his duty to serve in the Army.
The war backdrop is used as a story telling device that gives both John a purpose and the narrative a road to go down but unfortunately that’s as far as it goes. The pacing of Dear John is slow, too slow at times and even when John’s got a gun in his hand the romantic drama genre makes sure any action featured doesn’t become a sub-genre.
Both Tatum and Seyfried serve the purpose of being a young couple in love in a romance drama. There isn’t a huge amount of variation to their love story character archetypes but Tatum in particular shows some versatility in his acting (although his soldier character doesn’t give him a massive amount of space to play a new style of character). The best performance in the film I think goes to John’s coin-obsessed dad (Richard Jenkins) – his reclusive character and how that effects John gives the film some depth it needs to avoid falling into the love story cliché.
Dear John isn’t a remarkable film but it doesn’t have to be. It does exactly what any acceptable love story should do: stick with the conventions but provide an edge that doesn’t make it generic. Dear John does this – the love story is prevalent throughout but the father-son relationship gives the film that significant edge.
It’s not a film I’m used to watching and whilst it wasn’t anywhere near as amazing as the box office suggests I didn’t not like watching it. That’s a good thing, right?
This review is from my blog Scrambled Pixel, google us if you want.