Dear John (2009)

Rated PG-13. Our ratings: V-3 ; L-3 ; S/N- 5. Running time: 1 hour 45 min.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but
in humility regard others as better than yourselves.
Let each of you look not to your own interests,
but to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way… 1 Corinthians 13:4-5a

Though from different strata of society, John and Savannah fall in love during a summer break.

2009 Screen Gems

Everyone knows what a “Dear John” letter, but in this tender film, directed by Lasse Hallstrom and writ ten by Jamie Linden (based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks), there is a long series of letters addressed to John Tyree (Channing Tatum), a Special Forces soldier stationed in Afghanistan during a span of seven years that began just after 9-11. The letters are from Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried), a college junior whom he had met at a pier on the coast of South Carolina. When she had accidentally dropped her purse in the water, he had moved far faster to rescue it than the boy she was with. Becoming attracted to each other at the party to which she, in gratitude, had invited him, they become a couple during the rest of the summer. Not only is she beautiful, she is also idealistic, a regular volunteer at a nearby Habitat for Humanity project. Even more, she asks to meet his father (Richard Jenkins) and takes the time to connect with this somewhat autistic man. He is obsessed with his coin collection and delighted when she expresses an interest. Later, when invited to her parents for a lawn party, Mr. Tyree agrees to go, but his intense fears rise up just as they arrive, and John has to take him back home.

At the end of the summer Savannah must return to finish college, and John return to his unit in Afghanistan. They promise to write frequently, a promise they both keep. Then, when John’s term is up, comes the horrific attack on the twin towers, and. reluctantly John decides to follow the lead of his combat buddies and re-enlist. This upsets Savannah, now out of college and working, but they continue to exchange letters and enjoy their brief time together when John returns to South Carolina. But there is a neighbor Tim (Henry Thomas,) a widower with a son needing special care, and… This is a warm-hearted romance with little that some critics have found mawkish, but it just might become a good date movie for those in the right mood. Surely one the heroine of which is a Habitat for Humanity volunteer is worthy of our attention.

For Reflection/Discussion

1. How does the “meet cute” scene of the lovers in this film compare with those in other films? How does the plot develop along similar lines? And then diverges?

2. Although the setting is a war, what is the film really about?

3. What clues do we see to the nature of Savannah’s character? Do you think any other girl had taken the time to become acquainted with John’s father?

4. What is it that motivates John to re-enlist in the armed services? And for Savannah to do what she does?