Dear John


I have to say one thing: Lasse Halstrom manages to keep a consistently lugubrious tone throughout Dear John. Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried fall in love only to be separated by his going to Afghanistan and she back to college. Let the tears begin.

The superficial, clich?d romantic claptrap is well represented while the more substantial topic of autism, from which not one but two characters suffer, is never explored. Besides the slow, loving gazes and Tatum bowing his head in shyness and love every other shot, the angry young man and do-gooder young woman are alive and well.

In great romances like Casablanca, I can rattle off several lines; in this loser all I can remember is the silence, or rather the lengthy pauses while Halstrom milks another close-up of his camera-worthy leads crying and expressing either faux rapture at the sight of the beloved or pain at the departure.

I don't even know why I'm not grading this pap with a "D." Maybe it's because I was seduced by my hopes in awarding When in Rome a "B" when it didn't deserve it. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Nicholas Sparks, the author of the original story, has a tearjerker reputation. I now know why.