A romantic drama about a soldier who falls for a conservative college student while he's home on leave.A romantic drama about a soldier who falls for a conservative college student while he's home on leave.A romantic drama about a soldier who falls for a conservative college student while he's home on leave.
In this case the protagonist is "John" (Channing Tatum) who plays an Army Special Forces character who can kill you with a toothpick but has total control over his emotions. Until, of couse, he meets "Savannah" (Amanda Seyfried) over his 2 week furlough before going back to war.
As you might guess, the story explores the ultimate long distance relationship as John completes his 1 year tour as a soldier while Savannah waits at home. Sounds boring? Well wait, there are complications. John's father is autistic and his mother abandoned them years ago. So John is forced to be the responsible one, but the whole war/love thing throws him out of whack.
Meanwhile Savannah has a few secrets of her own (and I gotta admit I totally didn't see it coming). And on top if it all, 9/11 hits and this forces John to make a decision whether to stay with his platoon and most likely get his butt blown off, or retire once his initial tour is over. Oh, and the movie begins with John getting blasted by gunfire, meaning the story unfolds in a huge flashback leaving us wondering the whole time if John dies or not.
This is a very sentimental flick, much like the other Hallström movies I mentioned, but it doesn't get sappy or predictable. In fact at least 3 plot twists took me by total surprise. And I'm talking like "whoa duuuuude I never saw THAT coming" surprise.
"Dear John" focuses on interpersonal relationships when duty comes into play - and I'm not just talking about duty toward your country (a cleverly woven parallel), but duty to parents, children and those who need help. This is juxtaposed against selfish happiness, or the storybook love. Pay close attention to the characters' choices & sacrifices, and how these choices are based on duty/selflessness rather than "getting the girl". I think that's what makes this a unique romance. Whereas most Hollywood romance flicks focus on the problems of 2 lovers, "Dear John" presents us with an ideal love that is complicated by external loyalties.
The trademark of Hallström movies is some other issue (not just love) driving the characters, and that's why these films aren't sappy or predictable. Another trademark is is use of gorgeous scenery, in this case the beaches of Charleston SC. He achieves a very nostalgic beach feeling, even for those of us who have only been to the beach once or twice in our lives (see also his film "Safe Haven" filmed in Southport, NC).
"Dear John" is a quiet, sentimental film, so don't expect action, car chases & robots. But it delivers a few tricky plot twists, so it's never boring. If you're not familiar with Hallström's style, I'd say it's artistic without being over-the-top artsy. Think of Kieslowsky (Blue, White, Red trilogy) or Wim Wenders (Paris Texas, Wings of Desire) or possibly even Steven Soderbergh (Sex Lies & Videotape, Solaris, Magic Mike) and you'll have a general idea of how this film feels.
- May 2, 2018