Okay, here we go. I’m kicking off with a review of Dear John; a “Love story” based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, the same emotional manipulator who brought us such classics as the Notebook and A Walk to Remember.
Well, the producers certainly knew what they were doing by dragging Channing Tatum’s Adonis-esque naked torso into the first three minutes of the film. He can dance and surf; a man of many talents.
The thing that surprised me, however, is that he can actually act. Shocking, I know.
The films begins with a whirlwind romance, where nothing monumental actually happens. I know that doesn’t make a lick of sense, but it does in the context of the film. They tried to make the ordinary extraordinary and, as quoted by the always likeable Amanda Seyfried-- (who I will remember as Veronica’s murdered Best friend on the taken-before-it’s-time neo noir drama, Veronica Mars)--
“It only took two weeks for me to fall in love with you.”
Call me a cynic-- and many of you do-- but I found it a bit rushed. I’m a fan of dragging stuff out, building up the UST and making the audience want it just as much the characters do, but that’s just my worthless opinion. However I just wish it could have happened, because the love story was what let this film down.
Tatum and Seyfried’s chemistry is okay. It steadily progresses as the film does, but it still didn’t have that emotional connection that we received with Ryan and Rachel in the Notebook, or Mandy Moore and Shane West; the kind of love that makes people well up when they remember it. And I just don’t think Dear John will have that same resonance.
Amanda Seyfried is a good leading lady, she lights up the screen. --Usually. But, compared to Savannah in the book, she just wasn’t up to par, or her usual best.
However, the film, like the book is not a love story. It’s a story about love, and the most heart-warming and heart-wrenching part of the film comes from a sublime performance by Richard Jenkins, who plays John (Tatum) Tyree’s father. He is a man so consumed by his love of coins that his relationship with his son had suffered. There is an exact reason for this, which wasn’t explained clearly in the film, and I sorely missed some of the elements from the book, which dealt with the love story of the film in a much more elegant, believable way.
Seyfried didn’t seem to have much of a purpose, and that’s okay, because in the book she was mainly just a MacGuffin-- Something that moves the plot along. Thanks you, Alfred Hitchcock.
Elements of the film had a Vanity Fair feel, and others felt like a True-movies seven o’clock showing. I suppose the fact that the film had a pastel coloured back-drop and a soft-lighting mood that
I felt lacking. I prefer a dynamic picture, where every colour pops and catches the eye.
Saying that, everyone was very, very pretty; Except for Tim, Wow, that really teed me off!
And now to the good stuff:
How did it compare to the book? :
In short, it didn’t.
The book dealt with many of the issues in a far better way. Including Tim, whose character and plot I was sorely disappointed in while watching the film, was actually one of my favourite characters in the book. He was so witty, wise, and wonderful, and they completely and utterly cocked that up, which actually had a detrimental effect on the ending.
Whereas the book deals with his relationship with his autistic brother, the film decided to convert it to a father-son relationship, which wasn’t as effective or heart-warming as it could have been. The struggle in the book was more far interesting. I was really, really peeved at the second hospital scene, as well as the ending, and I assume any fan of the book is screaming into their proverbial pillows right now.
I’m a fan of Nicholas Sparks’ brand of pulling at the heart-string prose and character development. Although, I admit most of the plot lines are the same.
However, of his books that I read, I though Dear John was a better read than The Notebook, but not as poignant or heart-breaking as A Walk to Remember.
They completely re-hashed the ending of the film, to give the audience peace of mind, but I felt it lacked the emotional depth that the book had and felt a bit cheated if I’m honest.
Still, anyone who saw me afterward will I agree I was an absolute hysterical mess who would have put any X-Factor contestant to shame.
Thank you, Richard Jenkins.
So, in all, It’s a good weepy, that will devastate you if your in a fragile state, and confuse you if you think too much, A chewing Gum for the brain night out if there ever was one.
If you’re looking for a good film, something that makes you think “Wow, that was amazing, that was the best thing I’ve ever seen…”
…Then you have really low expectations. I don’t think anyone who claims to be a Cine-phile ever comes out without some complaint or another.
But I digress. Dear John is for fans of The Notebook., but not the one’s who expect an epic love story. But despite all it’s misgivings, and Patel colours, I went in smiling, and came out looking like this:
Wow, that was surreal. I fucking Hate clowns. Thanks to you, my supposedly waterproof mascara! Blatant false advertising.
If you like Dear John:
The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, The Last Song, Message in a Bottle, The Majestic, My Girl, Pay it Forward, I am Sam, and any Greys anatomy episode featuring an old couple, and come prepared. Kleenex and Ben &Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge brownie at the ready.
Adult/ Chick Lit:
Anything by Nicholas Sparks, -- The first four named above, but don’t forget the Lucky One. Just like Dear John, literally, only not as good in my opinion.
The Gift by Danielle Steele,
Pay it Forward by Catherine Hyde,
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd,
The Time Traveller's Wife,
The Memory-Keeper's daughter
Young Adult/ Paranormal Romance Reading:
Anything by Sarah Dessen,
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (it’s about Zombies, but it’s heartbreaking),
Betrayal by P.C. Cast (The only decent House of Night Book),
Wicked Lovely-- a book about Faeries with an intense relationship that makes you feel its heat radiating from the pages.
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. Broke my heart several times over.
I never realised how emotional I am until I came out of the cinema in flood of tears. Huh, interesting.
You learn something new everyday!