Dear John was adapted from the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks. John Tyree (Channing Tatum) is a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army and the film begins with him narrating as he is in action. This was an interesting way to begin as it draws the audience in instantly and his commentary begins to unfold the story in quite a dramatic way. When John is on leave he meets a girl called Savannah (Amanda Seyfried) and they spend a lot of time together during this period of two weeks leave and swiftly fall in love with each other. John has a year left of his service in the U.S. Army and so they vow that it is just the beginning for their relationship and promise to write one another.
However, the tragic events of 9/11 are a turning point in this film as it causes John to re-enlist due to his whole unit feeling the need to defend, protect and fight for their country. Meanwhile Savannah is studying at college and her life seems to be moving on without him. The fact that John re-enlisted hurt her deeply and this creates a strain between them which further complicates things.
John’s relationship with his father is also a very significant aspect of this film. Richard Jenkins played the role of the father, who it is revealed throughout the film has autism, who raised John by himself after his wife left him. It is unmistakable that John was often frustrated by his father though he seems to have accepted or at least learnt to tolerate the way their relationship is.
I have found that Channing Tatum is frequently criticised for his unemotional and detached performances however, I think his portrayal of John was very accurate in terms of the way I perceived the character as depicted in the novel. Moreover, his so-called inexpressive nature is arguably not uncommon or unseen in a lot of men, or it is at least a stereotypical characteristic of men not to show their emotions.
Amanda Seyfried was satisfactory as Savannah and though it is a fairly straight-forward character she managed to make her easy to like and quite memorable. The way the relationship between them blossoms so rapidly is delivered in a sincere way which makes their chemistry believable and draws you into their connection.
One of the interesting things about this film is the chronological order of the story itself. It briefly begins at a point in the story which is quite near the end and then it is told from the beginning where John and Savannah met and progresses though to the scene which the film started at and goes on to a finishing point.
Dear John is quite a typical romantic drama with plenty of moving moments and is quite likely to make the average female tear up. However, it is not just one for the girls, I’m sure most people would enjoy this film and the relationship between John and Savannah isn’t the only focus of it so those not interested in the romance aspect could still like it.
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