DEAR JOHN

2010

6/10

 

 

DIRECTOR: Lasse Hallström

May Contain Spoilers!

Channing Tatum has hardly gone out of his way to prove his acting chops over the past few years. Known for Step Up, G.I. JOE: The Rise Of Cobra, The Eagle and more recently 21 Jump Street, he is not without his charms, but I can’t see him treading the boards for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Saying that, here, he quite adequately plays a young soldier, coming to terms with his father’s undiagnosed autism and his new love affair with Amanda Seyfried. Tatum is cold and emotionally guarded whilst Seyfried is supposed to be a breath of fresh air, breezing through his life. She is supposed to be deep, caring and strong, whilst instead she comes across as pushy and selfish!

So it’s bad enough that Tatum is playing a cold man, though we do see more depth to him as the film progresses, but we’re suppose to sympathise with his relationship with this woman. After their meeting in the opening scene, the pair engage in a brief but passionate romance, she meets and befriends his father, and he returns to war as  a Special Ops soldier. They then exchange letters for the last year of his service but on the eve of his final day, 9/11 changes everything.

He re-enlists to continue the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, but she can’t take the long distance relationship and dumps him with a, you guessed it, Dear John…

Soon after, he gets shot,which is the scene where the film begins, as he recounts a letter in which it was implied that he was thinking of Seyfried as he is dying, but this was in fact one of the films most touching and poignant twists. The letter was actually to his dad, though he would actually write it several years later, as his father lies dying from a stroke. Years go by and his ex-lover has now married someone else, but conveniently, he, going for the nicest man on the planet award, is dying of cancer, thus opening things up for our two leads to rekindle their relationship.

I don’t know whether it’s just me, but these films really grate on me, with the brooding, often shirtless and hunky male lead, falling in love with some quirky girl, who we are supposed to believe evokes passion, whilst ultimately hurting each other.

This had hints of the equally unsympathetic and daft love triangle of Pearl Harbor. Channing Tatum was okay, we kind of like him, but she’s a bitch! I know that she’s human but I just didn’t sympathise with her at all, even less so when she’s making a move on Channing whilst her second choice husband is dying in hospital.

By this point, it was predictable and just annoying. I didn’t like where this had gone and it could have been better had they not gotten together in the end, but that would have also made the film a complete waste of time. The best parts were when the focus was on the difficult and unspoken relationship between father and son, a point which was proven by the opening letter, which was sweet and romantic but not aimed at his so-called love of his life, but at a man who he had finally come to understand, though in many ways, thanks to his girlfriend.

Overall, it’s one of those slow-paced and gentle romances and even though it falls off the wagon as many of these do with its central romance, it makes up for it with the father son plot.

 

 

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