Dear John (12A)



Drama (2010)
108mins US

Starring: Channing Tatum, Richard Jenkins, Amanda Seyfried, Henry Thomas
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Writer(s): Jamie Linden
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Army Special Forces operative John Tyree heads home to South Carolina for two weeks of leave to see his mildly autistic father, who collects coins, and unwind after a gruelling tour of duty. During an afternoon on the beach, John meets local girl Savannah and the spark of attraction is immediate. The two weeks ends and John returns to the front line, from where he sends letters to let Savannah know that he still loves her even though they cannot be together.

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LondonNet Film Review
Dear John

Love in a time of war is an impossible dream and the casualties are high in Dear John, a timely romance adapted from the bestseller by Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook)...

CHANNING TATUM as John Tyree and AMANDA SEYFRIED as Savannah Curtis star in Dear John. Momentum PicturesThe target teenage audience will swoon to the shameless plucking of heartstrings in Lasse Hallstrom's handsome film, not to mention the palpable screen chemistry between the good-looking lead actors. Channing Tatum seems to be inexorably drawn to conflicted heroes, whether it be an undisciplined street dancer in Step Up or a traumatised Iraq veteran in Stop-Loss. At a strapping 6ft 1in, he is a formidable physical presence and carries the role of a gung-ho, hot-headed soldier here with ease. However, he also possesses that rare ability to be vulnerable and emotionally fragile in front of a camera and he wrings genuine tears from Jamie Linden's script in a deeply-moving hospital scene that proves real men do cry in public. Amanda Seyfried exudes the same sweetness and pluck as her signature role as Sophie in Mamma Mia!, staring dreamily into Tatum's tear-stained eyes.

Army special forces operative John Tyree (Tatum) heads home to South Carolina for two weeks' leave to see his mildly-autistic father (Richard Jenkins), who collects coins. During an afternoon on the beach, John meets local girl Savannah (Seyfried) and the spark of attraction is immediate. The hunk downplays his efforts behind enemy lines, describing war as "long stretches of boring, occasional stretches of scary." He prefers to get to know Savannah and the pair spend every waking moment together. Her good friend, Tim (Henry Thomas) warns the soldier that he will kill him if he ever breaks Amanda's heart. Inevitably, the two weeks end and John returns to the front line, promising his sweetheart, "it will all be over sooner than you think and I'll be back for good." Fate conspires to reunite the lovers, though not in a way that either of them would have wished.

AMANDA SEYFRIED as Savannah Curtis in DEAR JOHN. Momentum PicturesDear John is a bittersweet soap opera that relies on familiar plot devices, including terminal illness, to keep the lovers apart. Even the conflict in Iraq turns out to be just one more spoke in the wheels of their journey. Sex scenes are tastefully shot within the bounds of a 12A certificate, but with just enough toned, bronzed flesh to swell the membership of Tatum's ever-growing fan club. Jenkins delivers a terrific supporting performance that brings to life scenes at the Tyree homestead, cast in the golden glow of a South Carolina summer. Despite a slavish adherence to convention, Hallstrom's film does accomplish one sleight of hand with a love letter, read by John over the opening credits. Even slick, glossy pieces fluff can defy expectations.

- Kim Hu


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