Hailed as one of the must see romantic films of the year by American critics (and the market judging from its Box Office success), Dear John does not deliver for the British audience.
The storyline is most at fault; it dictates a slow pace that never quite grabs the attention. The two protagonists (Seyfried and Tatum) fulfil their roles adequately although one does wonder what Seyfried sees in the silent, hulking (sometimes gurning) latter. The use of letter-writing as a device is clever but not original (see Seyfried’s other film Letters to Juliet), although the romantic sentiment sometimes borders on the sickly. The cringe-worthy moments surrounding Tatum’s statement “wherever you are in the world the moon is smaller than your thumb” (not really a revelation considering perspective) are particularly agonising while the overuse of John’s name starts to wear very quickly and elicited laughter from the audience.
The poignant moments of this film are to be found in the supporting roles. Richard Jenkins as Tatum’s father portrays an endearing eccentric who is responsible for the more emotional scenes in the film. The discussion and treatment of his autism (his obsession with coins lends a useful backbone to the story) leads up to a cathartic moment that could have been over-dramatised but actually is incredibly touching. Luckily Channing’s slightly dodgy speech about him being a coin (“I was rimmed and stamped”) returns this film safely back into cheap rom-com mode.
Towards the end of the film the plot becomes tired – the pace becomes quicker and the characters rip through years with little explanation or emotion. This rapidity combined with some odd twists means that the film is never really resolved. My final thoughts were that Channing should never grow a goatee and that the best thing about this film is the title.