Dear John centers around a soldier, John Tyree (Channing Tatum) who falls in love with a college student, Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried) while he is back home on leave. This film is adapted from the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name and directed by the melodramatic romance aficionado Lasse Hallstrom. If you are looking for a romance tale that offers very little surprises, look no further.
Hallstrom and Sparks seems to be a match made in heaven. For the better part of a decade, Hallstrom has entirely dedicated himself to romantic films: Chocolat, The Shipping News and Casanova. These films do not really demonstrate a form of versatility. Usually, I am fascinated with directors or writers that stay in their proverbial lane. They are not interested in writing or directing anything other than the genre that has garnered them any form of success. Sparks churns out the same romance novels because there is an appetite for them. Hallstrom provides the same service with romance films. Therefore, from a studio’s perspective, why wouldn’t you want to make film with these two?
I will say that I was very surprised with the subtle performance by Richard Jenkins. For the most part, Jenkins has madea career off being a crony of the Farrelly brothers. In recent years, he has demonstrated some acting chops. Also, it’s nice to see Henry Thomas in a minor role, since playing Elliot in ET has otherwise plagued his career. Onto the difficult part, the two leads are problematic. I did not feel the chemistry between Seyfried and Tatum. It would be nice to see Tatum play something more than the lantern jawed tough guy with a haunted past. Seyfried demonstrated some comfort and ease on the screen. I feel like in romantic films the two leads need to be smoldering when they share the frame. Unfortunately, I did not get that feeling and the film struggles because of it.
This film is both formulaic and predictable. However, within this romantic drama genre, both of the aforementioned flaws are anticipated. Hallstrom knows how to handle this subject matter and for the numerous warts this film has, there will continue to be droves of people lining up to see the next one.
Dear John is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. The colors are lush and radiant. The transfer is spotless. With romantic films the backdrop often emphasizes the mood and tone the director is looking to achieve and this film is no different. There are lots of sunrises and sunsets that create the emotional tone. As I said before, Hallstrom knows how to create emotion and the product reflects this.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital surround is immersive. The score fills the room during the emotional deployment scenes. Also, the rocking indie
soundtrack booms during the party scenes. It would have taken a lot to mess this track up and thankfully the film did not.
Deleted & Alternate Scenes: 12 additional scenes. These scenes offered very little in character development. It is nice to see Hallstrom demonstrate some restraint here.
A Conversation with Channing, Amanda, and Lasse: Standard featurette.
Transforming Charleston: A look at the extensive production design that took place while filming.
Military in Movies: Dear John’s Military Advisors: Talking head interviews with the army liaison with the entertainment industry.
Mr. Tyree, The Mule, and Benny Dietz: A comparison is made between the Mr. Tyree character and the man that supplied the coins for
The Story of Braeden Reed: A look at the child actor who played the autistic child in the film.
People that enjoy these types of films are rarely disappointed with what they provide. I struggle with these types of films only because they rarely surprise you. I wish this film took more chances and was not as predictable as it inevitably was.