actually i'm surprised that i actually like "dear john"...and what surprises me even more is its being tagged as "CHICK FLICK"...yes, it is romantic melodrama aimed for the female audience, definitely not something to feast your testicular hormones..but this story developes completely in a male-centered perspective despite it's a "dear john" letter from a female character on the surface. but the woman, in this case, remains as an enigma with the idealistic profile of how the dream girl should be: she doesn't drink, she doesn't smoke, and she has a wide compassionate heart for charity and patience for those in need, young, clean-cut, pretty and well-bred by upper-middle class family, just like a fascinating flat character in perfect male romance. on the contrary, the story is about john and the love of his life. we learn all the things about john, his withdrawn character, his childhood, and relationship with his autistic father as well as his emotional journey of this profound romance of a life-time. nothing more about the woman except her desirability as a romantic interest. how come that would be tagged as chick flick? come on, that's a man's picture! one flixster pal told me that there's no more romantic picture made for men like the times of clark gable, but here's one. and it's definitely retro! to some point, i almost feel channing tatum is the new gary cooper for some innocent boyish gallantry he bears, patriotic, passionate, dignified and sincere in a inland american way, not too obviously smugly cute like those metrosexual subservient man-boys you see frequently in chick flicks.
i must say "dear john" makes great advantage of 911 event, which brings back an air of retro-war-romance like "farewell to the arms"(gary cooper was in the original movie adaption in 1930s), that sort of old romantic story you heard around wwi or wwii, woman waiting for the letter from her beau in the army. (wars make the greatest romances, don't you agree?) sometimes it's hard to believe that in a digitalized time like today that people could still communicate their feelings through written words on papers instead of the efficient emails..(i refer to the movie's case)..and also, the protagonists only spend two weeks together then the woman is sent back to college, the man to the army..18 hours more to be together when the man is on leave because of the 911 tragedy, then one great tender laid between these two during that brief time. in most of the time, the romance proceeds in the longings and yearnings for each other...that makes you wonder perhaps thinking of being in love sometimes is more romantic than actually being in love and living together day by day. just like the great british romance "one brief encounter" in which the protagonists spent all the time meditating that one thursday during the whole week to cower in each other' arms. (maybe the best thing of romance is the fantastic possibility of life which is like a gleam of hope and great wonderment shining upon your drab mediocre life..and the confusion about it captivates you far more than your ordinary relationship with opposite sex)
the best part of the movie is probably the subplot of the man's interactions with his autistic father who's obsessed with coins. and what the coins symbolize the disintegration and union between the father and son. and the most beautiful speech the man makes is the words he composes when he's shot in the battlefield..that pile of words about his thinking of himself like one of the flawed coins eliminated by american government, no longer perfect, made obsolete, about to be discarded, then the last thing he thinks of before everything blacks out is..HER.
my minor complaint would probably be the female character which appears like a vague shadow for some function of romantic interest in spite of the good actings delivered from amanda seyfried, but the woman is just too plainly good, far from bitch: she cares for the autistic kids who need special education, spends her family fortune on a summer camp for those "special" kids and eventually she marries a dying man and she's willing to take over the dying man's kid to raise.,,most of all, she hasn't suffered from any kind of whims for sluttish sexual encounters or moments of physical weekness while her beau is in the army..what an angelic saint made for your beautiful dreams. so i say, i'm surprised to know it's tagged as chick flick because it's totally centered on a male vision of ideal romance. get the point?
besides, the part of the woman marrying the sick man for some altruistic reason is a bit long-winded and the efforts she takes to nurture the sick man and his child are a bit un-realistic. maybe the story would be more romantic if it just ends at the point when the man envisions her as the last thing coming into his mind when he loses his conscious, but shits happen, the most beautiful romance always ends with a tragic regret so you would carry it to your mind forever and contemplate in a rainy day: how happy i could be if shits didn't happen and now i'm in her arms to smooch and embrace. that "if" could console you even in the worst moment of your life, for most people are even deprived of that lovely "if", that fantastic possibility of life, all through our lives except the few blessed ones.
unfortunately, "dear john" doesn't end like that.