Can Nicholas Sparks make you cry again with Dear John? | Film Review | Indy Week
Pin It

Can Nicholas Sparks make you cry again with Dear John

Channing Tatum (left) and Amanda Seyfried in "Dear John"

Photo by Scott Garfield/ Screen Gems

Channing Tatum (left) and Amanda Seyfried in "Dear John"

Dear John opens Friday throughout the Triangle

For all their schmaltzy underpinning, two things have always buoyed the movie adaptations of novels by New Bern-based author Nicholas Sparks. First is their North Carolina setting (even if they're not always filmed in the state). Second is their durable casting, particularly romantic leads that include Kevin Costner and Robin Wright Penn (Message in a Bottle), Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams (The Notebook) and Richard Gere and Diane Lane (Nights in Rodanthe).

I won't hold against Dear John that it relocates the book's Wilmington, N.C., setting to Charleston, S.C., a change probably motivated less by artistic license than variances between the states' respective film incentive programs. But the casting of Channing Tatum, the hunky hulk who has mumbled his way through roles in Step Up (1 and 2), She's the Man, Stop-Loss and G.I. Joe, is troublesome on its face. The choice becomes downright dire once Tatum is called upon to tiptoe his way through the story's dense emotional minefield.

click to enlarge Channing Tatum (left) and Amanda Seyfried in "Dear John" - PHOTO BY SCOTT GARFIELD/ SCREEN GEMS

While on leave from deployment as an Army Ranger and visiting his father's beach house, John Tyree (Tatum) meets and falls for Savannah (Amanda Seyfried), a doe-eyed college student whose summer job appears to be a relentless do-gooder. She works for Habitat for Humanity! She looks after her friend's autistic child and wants to work with the developmentally challenged after graduation! She successfully diagnoses John's elderly father (Richard Jenkins) as suffering from Asperger's syndrome!

Dear John goes AWOL as a love story, the typical raison d'être for Sparks' books/ films. Contributing factors include Tatum's performance, a splintered narrative that constantly veers from South Carolina's shores to John's post-9/11 reenlistment and deployment, and director Lasse Hallström's ponderous direction, which dilutes John and Savannah's coupling down to frolicking in the surf, making out in the rain and monotonous voiceovers of their overseas letters to each other.

The film's saving grace is the complicated relationship between John and his father, played with great skill by Jenkins. John's dad loves his son but doesn't possess the ability to fully express it, while John loves his father but lacks the understanding to cope with his emotional deficits. Their strained bond throws the emotional gut punch inherent to every Sparks tearjerker. More important, it's also Dear John's most earnest and reflective segment.

  • Dear John goes AWOL as a love story, the typical raison d'être for Sparks' books/ films.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Film Review



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

The lobster is arbitrarily asinine, disjointed, and gratuitously violent towards both humans and former humans that "didn't make it." If …

by Marco_Polo on The Lobster Surreally Skewers Society’s Fear of Single People (Film Review)

The only peeople who murdered those boys were let off by an inexperienced prosecutor and hoodwinked judge. The facts are …

by Greg 1 on The West Memphis Three are free ... what about the real killer? (Film Review)

"Miles Ahead"... "opening Friday".... where? I'm having a tough time finding film times/locations on www.indyweek.com now. The …

by Tbone on Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis Film, Miles Ahead, Isn’t a Real Biopic—It’s Something Better (Film Review)

Actually, many evangelicals and other Christians would not agree with the notion that "if you are a true believer you …

by bsquizzato on Film Review: Christian Movie Miracles From Heaven Goes Where Secular Hollywood Won't (Film Review)

Comments

The lobster is arbitrarily asinine, disjointed, and gratuitously violent towards both humans and former humans that "didn't make it." If …

by Marco_Polo on The Lobster Surreally Skewers Society’s Fear of Single People (Film Review)

Most Read

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation