The beaches of North Carolina fill with students who spend their days soaking up the sun while on spring break. A soldier in the U.S. Army, John Tyree (Channing Tatum) spends much of his time at the beach surfing, while on a two-week leave. It’s during one of these times that he spots a pretty college student walking the pier with her friends. After impulsively rescuing her bag which had tumbled into the water, John meets Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried).
Both immediately feel an instant connection and so begins a whirlwind two-week romance. She’s a southern girl who doesn’t drink, swear or smoke. He’s an upstanding soldier with a checkered past. She meets and bonds with his quiet, reserved father (Richard Jenkins), they go to the beach, and connect over acts and works of charity, all while falling deeper in love thousands of miles from each other.
As their love grows, they bond over letters with John’s promise to be back and home for good in 12 months. And then September eleventh happens…
Dear John (2010) Film Review
One thing any Nicholas Sparks adaptation guarantees is the tears the story will inevitably inspire. Of the other five that have been written to the screen, three introduce tragedy that sends characters into an emotional tailspin, while another ends with no purpose. Luckily for those of us who aren’t fond of weeping through a story, Dear John provides an alternative or at least makes the tears worth something.
Since I’m a person who enjoys a good happy ending story, I cannot say why I continue to read or watch this author’s works. It’s a mystery. Whatever the reason, I’ve found one with his name that I admire. This burden falls on Dear John, which is (as of now) by far my favorite. One of its enemies is the slower, quiet pace. More scenes than one would think take place inside the war with letter reading voice-overs of the letters John and Savannah exchange. This makes for a leisurely pace that might lost the audience. But it doesn’t. It’s something that envelops us, and unfolds in a loving way (in more than one form) that nearly all is forgiven.
War is always a “difficult” topic to script. By this I mean most screenwriters don’t like to depict it constructively. Here is no different. This story “discredits’’ war by blaming it for personal motives. By depicting John’s service as the cause of all friction, the story, whether on purpose or not, holds war to blame. But on the other spectrum, it surprises me to see this isn’t “just a romance.” Instead this is more a story of John’s loyalty and courage in the face tragedy.
Some critics and viewers complain about the characters. In general, no one cares for Savannah, and feel John deserves better. To me, the characters were all “likable” and while I do find John’s life to be more upstanding than some leading men, he’s far from faultless. Neither is Savannah. Where a real problem occurs between these two lovers is the expectation Savannah has of John (post-breakup). Nearly all of Sparks’ works carry the unspoken tagline that tears will accompany, but nothing here compels tears during the in-between goings-on. Maybe it’s the acting or just knowing what would occur, there is emotion, but never that heart-wrenching feeling that brings you to tears. Since I had seen these actors in separate roles prior to this, I also wound up loving these two together.
All that to say, there is many things to admire about this script. One of my favorite aspects is the “love letter” romance; another is the characters. To see how their faults come to light is expressed well. Perhaps their story is unrealistic (they fall in love over a two-week period), but you can sympathize some in the excitement, knowing what a short time they had together. Happily the ending is neither “complete” in its potential, but it doesn’t devastate. If the novel is more to your liking, there is an alternate ending that matches it to near perfection. Generally I would detest this alternate end, but it’s a sort of farewell for a character that’s emotionally healthy.
Dear John is a lovely film with beautiful, and flawless beach scenery that stays with you after its end. These pieces of film essentially become a part of the story, one that has many things for its audience to relate to. That alone makes this a joy to experience.
(Disclosure: this post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you to anyone who makes a purchase through these links. Read the disclosure page for details.)
You can find Dear John (2010) digitally on Amazon Video‘Dear John’ – A Romance about Love Letters. Reviewing the 2010 #NicholasSparks adaptation with #ChanningTatum and Amanda Seyfriend. #Romance #Movies Click To Tweet
Content: One sensual scene shows tender kisses and caresses, and near nudity; John watches Savannah undress. A soldier sustains injuries in the back and dies; a man punches three guys after being “goaded.” Scenes take place in the war, none of which turn graphic. Two characters die. There is a couple of scattered profanities; he** and ba*tar*; there is social drinking. This is PG13.