Dear John (12A)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner16/04/2010

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins

Disappointing, badly written and ultimately empty drama that fails to engage on an emotional level and only escapes one star ignominy because of the chemistry and likeability of its two leads.

What's it all about?
Directed by Lasse Hallstrom, Dear John is based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks (who wrote The Notebook) and stars Channing Tatum as US soldier John Tyree, who falls for beautiful, wealthy and kind-hearted college student Savannah (Amanda Seyfried) while home on leave visiting his eccentric, coin-collecting father (Richard Jenkins) in South Carolina. However, when John returns to active duty, Savannah struggles with the long-distance relationship, especially after John extends his tour of duty following the events of September 11th.

The Good
Dear John desperately wants to be the next The Notebook, but it unfortunately lacks the iconic romantic scene (think of the kiss in the rain) that made that film stand out; as a result, there's nothing in Dear John that even comes close to The Notebook.

That said, Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried are extremely likeable actors and there's genuine chemistry between them, which is just as well, because the script gives them almost nothing to work with. Similarly, Richard Jenkins is superb as John's possibly autistic father, delivering a moving (and underused) performance that is much better than the film deserves.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that the plot is so thinly written as to be practically non-existent. Yes, there's chemistry between the two leads, but there's no emotional depth to their romance and, given that the title of the film pretty much gives away the supposedly crucial emotional moment, it's hard to care whether they get back together or not.

On top of that, Savannah's motivations never really ring true and end up making her less sympathetic as a result. In addition, the film is further let down by paper-thin characterisation (notably Henry Thomas as Savannah's neighbour Tim, who's pretty much the only other supporting character) while the endless reading of love letters quickly gets tedious.

Worth seeing?
In short, despite its likeable leads, this is a disappointing drama that fails to engage on an emotional level, thanks to a poorly written script, a paper-thin plot and lazy direction from Lasse Hallstrom.

Film Trailer

Dear John (12A)
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Content updated: 19/04/2019 00:07

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