Director Lasse Hallström has made a virtue of crafting bestsellers into lushly produced, if sentimental movies including Chocolat, The Cider House Rules and The Shipping News. Adapting Dear John from the novel by The Notebook’s Nicholas Sparks might suggest the Swedish director is slumming to reach a teenage audience, but this simple love story is an ideal vehicle for his trademark gloss.
Mamma Mia’s Amanda Seyfried plays Savannah, a student who strikes up a relationship with on leave soldier John Tyree (Channing Tatum), but their romance is temporarily stymied due to his overseas commitments. The lovers communicate in the old-fashioned way by paper and pen, but when Tyree decides to put his military career first after the 9/11 attacks, the inevitable Dear John letter results in mutual heartbreak.
While no cliché is left unturned in Jamie Linden’s script, the likeability of the leads and a strong supporting performance from Six Feet Under/The Visitor’s Richard Jenkins as John’s coin obsessed father make Dear John surprisingly watchable fare. Hallström has successfully fashioned Sparks’ novel into an old-fashioned Hollywood weepy that, while saying little of note about family, politics or war, is well enough tuned to matters of the human heart.
General release from Wed 14 Apr.