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Dear John


Stars: Amanda Seyfried, Channing Tatum, Henry Thomas, Richard Jenkins, David Andrews, Mary Rachel Dudley

Director: Lasse Hallström

A soapy romantic drama which, though intended to be a weepie on an epic scale, largely fails to move the emotions. Channing Tatum, not the most mobile of actors, and patently more suited to action roles, plays a soldier on leave who meets and falls in love with a college graduate (Seyfried), soon to return for her final year.

There are sideline attractions to their romantic moonings: Tatum's father (Jenkins) is an oddball withdrawn into his coin collection. And Seyfried's friend and neighbour is a fragile man (Thomas) with an autistic son. Tatum has a year to go on his service, but it's 2001 and the Twin Towers tragedy causes him to re-enlist for a further two years - not the only plot development here that fails to convince.

Seen in a series of indeterminate war zones, Tatum soon receives a real 'Dear John' letter from Seyfried terminating their relationsship, and resolves to make the army his career.

Shot in pastel shades, the film could induce an easy tear from the romantically inclined, but its performances don't seem to have the requisite sincerity, while the plot hardly builds to any big romantic climax.

David Quinlan

USA 2010. UK Distributor: Momentum (Paramount/Sony). Technicolor.
108 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 10 Apr 2010