Teenage girls worldwide can stock up on Kleenex and Godiva, because Nicholas Sparks is back to shred hearts and skew reality. Three time Oscar nominee Lasse Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules, My Life As A Dog) directs an adaptation of Sparks’ award-winning novel, Dear John. The film will mark Sparks’ 7th adaptation to date, The Last Song is set for a summer release.
- Director: Lasse Hallstrom
- Writer: Nicholas Sparks
- Producers: Marty Bowen, Wyick Godfrey, Ryan Kavanaugh
- Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Channing Tatum, Richard Jenkins
John Tyree (Tatum), a Special Forces officer, is visiting his father (Jenkins) in South Carolina while on leave. He meets Savannah Curtis, a bright, conservative college student who’s home for spring break. In predictable Nicholas Sparks fashion, they share a whirlwind two-week romance before John is deployed and Savannah returns to school. Through an amass of love letters, their relationship evolves into a fit of love, turbulence, and reality. Shock.
- The Notebook Sequel?: The Notebook is Sparks’ largest literary/cinematic success to date. Perhaps this 2005 box office hit marks the extent of his creative juice, because Dear John is palpably reminiscent of The Notebook. Fans of the latter will most likely interpret the similarities as disappointingly obvious. Lovers from different socioeconomic backgrounds, the “other man,” separation by war, a collection of letters, the list goes on.
- Love?: There’s a notable imbalance in the story-line. Here’s why: In order for the romantic turbulence to “devastate” an audience affectively, we have to believe the relationship. Savannah’s purse falls in a bay, John retrieves it, and suddenly they’re in love? Questionable. They suffocate the story with dramatics but forget to remind the audience that these people FELL in love. Show some flying sparks! Make us gag! Sure, every chick flick feeds on a substantial dosage of melodrama – but if there’s no genuine sentiment or back story behind the perfectly calculated tears, no one cares.
- Richard Jenkins: Jenkins never fails to impress. He plays John’s mildly autistic father, and his scenes were by far the most poignant in the film. In fact, their relationship was the ONLY honest one.
- Seyfried/Channing: No, their relationship wasn’t entirely believable, but that was a result of bad writing, not acting. They both gave solid performances considering the poor structure of the story.
- NO Happy Ending: Dear John doesn’t end with roses and rainbows. This is both shocking and refreshing. It’s about time a chic-flick didn’t pollute everyone’s relationship logic.
This is not a good film. It’s that simple. If you’re a fan, you’ll be highly let down. And if you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day fix, just rent The Notebook.
In theaters February 5th!