Dear John Lasse Hallstrom

Dear John Lasse Hallstrom
Having now watched Dear John twice, I can honestly say that it's a flighty, superficial mess that suffers the plight of male fantasy construct in a female-centric story. But what's interesting is how well made it is despite all this. The central story, which details the doomed romance of idealistic college student Savannah (Amanda Seyfried) and stolid, damaged soldier John Tyree (Channing Tatum), is essentially vacuous bullshit. Savannah's character is merely a vessel of chaste maternal goodness caring for the autistic and sacrificing her desires for her mortally ill friend Tim (Henry Thomas), when not remaining pure for the wooden, blasé John. It's no surprise that Seyfried apparently read the character with irony during her audition, as mentioned in the DVD interview supplement. Surely, she had a laugh at the role of a woman as non-descript caregiver, never swearing or drinking, instead coyly looking beautiful and naïve like a brain-dead git without a vagina. And Channing Tatum could easily have been replaced with a handsome table lamp for all the intensity and charisma he brought to the table. It just seems like everyone involved saw this for what it was: Hallmark sentimental crap for conservative Aryan breeding. What's interesting though is how professionally Hallstrom handles it. Every scene is lyrically filmed, flowing between shots that try to add more to the story, stepping away from the page to show the daily life during voiceover sequences and transitions. It's actually quite impressive to watch his detailed, intelligent handling, especially given how empty and stupid the movie is. The additional DVD supplements show an alternate ending that, I kid you not, features Savannah wistfully talking to the moon, along with some deleted scenes and outtakes. The supplements also elaborate on military handling and casting an actual autistic child in the film, elaborating on the vitality he brought to his scenes. It's true, I was wondering while watching the film if the kid was actually autistic, given how authentic he was. (Alliance)