Movie Review: Dear John (2010)

kissing scene

Le Sparks movie means le-kissing-in-the-rain

Staff Sergeant John Tyree meets Savannah on the beach during summer vacation. John is introduced to one of Savannah’s friends, Tim (Henry Thomas) who has an autistic son Alan (Luke Benward). Savannah meets John’s father (Richard Jenkins) and comments that he might have high-functioning autism. This upsets John, who has a very strained relationship with his coin-obsessed father already, and he gets into a fight that accumulates with Alan getting unfairly punched in the nose. John storms off but later apologizes before he returns to the army. Savannah and John keep in touch with dozens of letters during his tour.

Just before John’s tour is supposed to end the September 11 attacks takes place. His fellow team mates immediately sign up for another tour but John is uncertain. He returns home to the weekend to see Savannah and meet her parents. Savannah is devastated that John is considering reenlisting but accepts that it is something out of her control. He returns and commits to another tour.

Months pass and Savannah’s letters become more infrequent and eventually ceases. She writes one last letter to John to break up with him and tells him that she is engaged to someone else. John extends his tour again and works in the army for a few years.

His father has a stroke and john returns. He feels guilty because he wasn’t there to take care of his father, but the doctor tells him it wouldn’t have changed his father’s condition if he had been found earlier. That still isn’t much comfort to John because his father dies shortly after, but John manages to tell his father how much he loves him before he dies.

John is alone in the world now and decides to go visit Savannah. He is shocked to discover that she married Tim, not someone else. Tim is dying of cancer, and tells John that marrying Savannah had the added bonus of knowing that Alan will always have someone to take care of him and love him.

John asks Savannah why she didn’t have the decency to call him and leave him, and she says that by hearing his voice she would have changed her mind. Devastated, he leaves.

A few months later, John, who is now a civilian, sees Savannah, now a widow, in a coffee shop. The movie ends with them hugging, leaving the ending open.

Rating: 6/10

dear john

Dear John isn’t actually generic within its genre. It is never fully clear whether John and Amanda end up together. The end is realistic, although that makes the final moments not nearly as enjoyable as the normal endings in romantic movies.

The Chemistry between Tatum and Seyfried is strong enough to make John’s nearly obsessive love possible. Tatums’s character inspires sympathy – a brave soldier that doesn’t really have anyone in his life except his girl and his dad. Seyfried exploited that innocent air she carries around her to the maximum. Savannah is the rich-kid-that-has-a-soft-heart and does well as that.

In this movie I liked that the film is about them – the supporting roles don’t ever take the spotlight more than the leading storyline, and that is refreshing when the modern trend is to try and fit 600 story lines into one movie.

The contrast between the war zones and the beautiful American coastline was integral to the story –to me it showed the changes John always had to face and cope. It was fun seeing Richard Jenkins (from Eat Pray Love) in something else. He probably has gazillion movies I haven’t seen yet but so far he played his parts really well in the movies I did see.

Basically, Dear John is a bit mushy but not offensive. I did enjoy it but can only recommend it to people who generally like romantic movies though. Not for everyone.