|Directed by:||Lasse Hallstrom|
|Written by:||Jamie Linden|
|Starring:||Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried, Richard Jenkins, Henry Thomas, D.J. Cotrona, Cullen Moss|
|Released:||March 4, 2010|
If you want to make a tear-jerking romantic drama, you need to speak with Nicholas Sparks and buy the rights to one of his novels. You'll need a few dollars though as they’ve been very popular over the past decade. The Notebook (with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) was comfortably the best Sparks adaptation. Even I required tissues. I wasn’t as big a fan of A Walk To Remember, Message In A Bottle and Nights In Rodanthe but I know others who enjoyed them a great deal.
Dear John is the latest Nicholas Sparks novel to reach the big screen and yes, it’s more of the same. The year is 2001 and John (Tatum) is a U.S. solider fighting overseas who has been granted a few weeks leave. He’s returned to his father’s home in Charleston and is looking to relax. Surfing helps him do just that.
A girl by the name of Savannah (Seyfried) then enters the picture. They meet, they hang out, they fall in love. It’s a sudden, unexpected romance. Unfortunately, they are soon to be separated. John must return to combat and Savannah must head off to college. Are they destined to be together? Can they make a long distance relationship work?
Given John has no access to the internet or a phone whilst in combat overseas, he turns to the long-forgotten form of letter writing. He puts pen to paper and Savannah does the same. They share their experiences and inner-most thoughts. Both wait anxiously for the mail each day and both keep every letter they receive. There’s trouble ahead but I won’t give too much away. It wouldn’t be a Nicholas Sparks novel without its fair share of drama.
Dear John has weaknesses. The war scenes felt unrealistic and the continual letter writing back-and-forth was pretty boring. The ending is rushed too. This is the part of my review where I insert my standard comments about the difficulty in adapting a book into a two-hour movie. I appreciate that it’s not easy but I would have a few different choices in this case.
Strangely enough, the film is saved by two of its sub-plots. The first is that of John’s relationship with his widowed father – played brilliantly by Richard Jenkins (The Visitor). The second is Savannah’s friendship with a divorced man (Thomas) and his autistic child. The scenes involving these characters are far more interesting that the one-on-ones between John and Savannah.
Avatar spent seven weeks atop the box-office charts in the United States earlier in this year – the longest consecutive run since Titanic. It was Dear John who finally knocked it off the top spot last month. It now has a place in movie history.