CATEGORIES The DL From LA

'Dear John'


In honour of Valentine's Day, I went to see 'Dear John', a romance directed by Lasse Hallstrom ('Chocolat,' 'What's Eating Gilbert Grape') and based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. Since the rest of the world and I fell in love with our homegrown girl Rachel McAdams in Sparks' 'The Notebook,' I figured I'd give 'Dear John' a shot.

This romantic drama stars Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried ('Mamma Mia') as a young couple who fall in love and try to see their relationship through tough circumstances.

'Dear John'


In honour of Valentine's Day, I went to see 'Dear John', a romance directed by Lasse Hallstrom ('Chocolat,' 'What's Eating Gilbert Grape') and based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. Since the rest of the world and I fell in love with our homegrown girl Rachel McAdams in Sparks' 'The Notebook,' I figured I'd give 'Dear John' a shot.

This romantic drama stars Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried ('Mamma Mia') as a young couple who fall in love and try to see their relationship through tough circumstances.

When they first meet at the beach one summer afternoon, Savannah Curtis and John Tyree connect immediately when John rescues Savannah's purse from the ocean after an accident. John is in the special forces of the U.S. army, so this isn't his most heroic mission to date, but to Savannah, it's as impressive as his good looks.

Savannah is the 'perfect girl.' She is sweet, educated, honest, popular, gorgeous and charitable, and she comes from a supportive family. Handsome surfer John, however, is quiet and brooding. He doesn't have a mother and his relationship with his father is troubled and distant. But what is a bad boy for if not to attract a good girl who can soften his rough edges?

The new couple bonds over the next two weeks, falling madly in love with each other as Savannah prepares to leave for college and John to return to the army. Ah, to be that young and innocent again. When John leaves to go overseas for his last year of army duty, the sweethearts decide to continue their relationship through a series of handwritten letters to each other. It's amazing that teenagers even know how to pen letters these days, given email, text and Facebook, but it just demonstrates their devotion to each other.

Savannah and John live for the days when they hear from each other. A letter a day keeps the heartache away. For a time, the arrangement works. After all, it's just a year apart. Or, it's supposed to be, until 9-11 happens. John's unit signs up to re-enlist for another two years. And one day, Savannah just stops writing to John. Sixty days later, John finally receives a letter from Savannah which will be the last letter he receives from her. Devastated, he feels betrayed and abandoned by his soulmate and burns all her letters.

Did Savannah really fall out of love with John? Was their love connection not strong enough to bridge the distance between them? Is young love that fickle? I'll let you see the film and discover the answer for yourself.

Though the film opens strong, it begins to falter a bit when the letter-writing begins. It's a movie, after all. You want to see a relationship as it's actually happening and not just be privy to the letters written to keep the romance alive. But the movie regains its depth and bravely plunges into territory that incorporates serious topics such as cancer and autism.

The soundtrack, which includes songs by The Swell Season and Rachel Yamagata with Dan Wilson, is beautiful. While the placement of certain songs seemed purposefully designed to pull on the audience's emotions, it still worked. Amanda Seyfried herself contributed 'Little House,' a gorgeous, lovelorn song.

With her long blond hair, gigantic widespread eyes and full red lips, Seyfried played the slightly-too-perfect Savannah perfectly. Unfortunately, Channing Tatum was stiff. Sometimes it sounded like he was reading lines he didn't totally understand. But the two actors have a powerful chemistry together and the relationship was believable, despite Tatum's looks being better than his acting.

There are some additional noteworthy performances in the film including Richard Jenkins who plays John's sweet-but-troubled father, and Henry Thomas, who plays Savannah's neighbour, a single father raising a challenged young son. Though, I must confess that whenever I see Henry Thomas, I can't help but think of 'E.T.' and see him as a little boy (which is when I start to crave M&Ms).

If you're looking for a sweet, sad and then sweet again film to see for Valentine's Day, and if you're in your late teens (or you're just young at heart), I'd say to go ahead and take a chance on 'Dear John.' After all, there is nothing quite like the all consuming passion of young love, is there?

If there is, then please let me know because I'm, well, a wee bit past my twenties.