Dear John, sob stories don’t ensure a great movie

Cover of "Dear John (Limited Edition Blu-...

Cover via Amazon

Despite my reluctance, I just watched Dear John (2010), directed by Lasse Hallström. This is because my friend Katie insisted.

It’s not entirely fair for me to slate the filmmakers just because I did not enjoy it at all. My lack of enjoyment came mainly from the fact that I’m not a stereotypical girl who falls for the lead male every time, or dreams of that kind of thing. I have everything I need in that department. I do like films about love, but they must have something more to offer.

So, aside from getting people to relate to the smushy love scenes, what else does this film have to offer?

Well, my favourite aspect was John’s father, played by Richard Jenkins. He has always had an affinity to play loner roles, and fatherly ones. Six Feet Under, the Television series which ran from 2001-2005, is a good example, with his role as Nathaniel Fisher.

I loved his fragility, it evoked more feeling from me than Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried‘s love scenes ever did. His coin collection made a great metaphor throughout the film, and was like another character.

Sympathy tactics are not enough to make a great movie for me though, it did not change the fact that the film was predictable, relatively shallow, and did not fully convince me. Despite all-round acceptable performances, Richard Jenkins was the only fully convincing part.

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Nazi siege in the present?

Sergey Larenkov shows us exactly what it is to merge present images of locations such as Lenigrad, and to combine them with old photographs of the same locations. In particular he merges those depicting the Siege of Lenigrad, the siege being of Axis (Nazi) objective.

This has the effect of forcing viewers to realise that those who are old or dead were also young once, and intensifies the realisation that such events really happened, it forces them into present relevence.

Of course what makes the images most prominent is the stark contrast between the suffering of the past, and the safe indulgence of the present; but some people feel the past is just the past and will never be repeated on any level. Yet awful things still do happen in the world, maybe not on this scale in Western culture, but there is still suffering, and it helps if we realise our own fragile mortality, and that just because times change, it does not mean everything should be forgotten or buried.

(If I have made any errors or inaccuracies, please let me know and they will be ammended.)