By Julie Denice Griffin
Dear John, a film that introduces serious life decisions for many leaves you thinking about what love and commitment really mean. Diving into a water of ocean to retrieve her purse, John bypasses Savannah’s date to give it to her. John, an Army man of the Special Forces, later at a gathering, the boy sits and chats with John while making fun of his work for the service. A father and son greet him quietly after the boy jumps up and hugs her from behind.“How big the moon is when it’s rising.” She holds up a finger while he shows her how small it really is. The father and his son show up and give him a ride home after he asks Savannah for a six-o-clock date for the following day. Even while you pay special attention, it is hard to figure out what is really going on until the events start folding. The director takes you down one road, and then drives you up another. Savannah and John make the best use of time during the short summer together to get to know eachother. She finds out where he comes from, and he tries to keep her from knowing his dad. She allays his fears though as his dad and his new girlfriend get along well. “You have so many coins. How did you get involved in all of this?” He gives her a glove – William Jennings Brian, 1901, Silver coin – “McKinley said if Brian has his way, then the silver dollar would be that big.”
“No dad, we can’t do this all night,” John chides his dad, trying to find a way to spend more time with Savannah. It doesn’t work, as the next thing he knows, it’s time to take her home. She shows him a home she’s working on for a family hurt by the hurricane. She tells him she does not smoke, drink or sleep around. She assures him not to worry as she does have some faults and is not perfect. A romantic summer rain comes down as she finishes showing him the house she is building. He tells her he was somebody different before he went into the army and that she scares him. He likes her sunshine though, and as she loves him first, a love based on friendship begins. He helps her work on the house, and she plays folk guitar for him. One day, as John walks to the beach through a field of wheat, he has a hard time finding her. He finds her sitting alone and she explains that she believes it’s all almost all over, that since he’s leaving for the war, she’ll never see him again. She tells him she wants to teach special education, because of Alex who has autism and because of John’s dad. John is upset with her now and does not understand her compassion for his dad. He hurts three of her friends.
This movie is amazingly real to life and a surprisingly convincing drama.“She normally says goodbye before she goes back.” He feels so bad about punching the little boy’s father that he sincerely and truly apologizes to him. Humble, he explains himself truly and fully and with a complete lack of pride in great sorrow. He wants so much to see her again that he writes Savannah a note of apology. She apologizes for trying to play his father’s psychologist and he apologizes as well. She loves him unconditionally, remembering to forget to bring up the past. His dad misses her too, and sadly makes and saves doubles for her breakfast. Dear John, she writes. Two weeks is all it took to fall in love. Now we have one year apart. You made me a promise, a promise I know you’ll keep.” She asks him to write everything about his life down as he goes through on paper and to send it to her by Email. That way, she won’t miss anything. Although he gets more wrapped up in the war and his work and patriotism, abandoning his promise and forsaking Savannah – Her letters are the only that keep him alive inside. However, he quickly finds out there’s no Email, only air mail. And he is never allowed to give his location as that’s classified military information.
The frequent war tactic moving around prevents him from getting her letters regularly, which he said, when he misses out on make for a very bad day. Allen comes to visit. It makes her think of opening up a horse ranch for autistic kids, which she fears is a pipe dream. No, he writes her. “It’s not a pipe dream.” Dear John. These nights I fall asleep dreaming about you. Not tonight. You’re here with me.” Savannah keeps up with her visits to John’s dad for as long as she can. So, I’ll ask you John, wherever you may be. What’s the story?” He said he bought an ice cream cone on the way home from school one day as a child, and noticed his coin wasn’t really a coin. A hustler tried to buy the coin for twenty-dollars and his dad’s horse sense says something’s up. He finds an honest coin trader who says it’s worth four-thousand and that someday it’ll be worth a whole lot more.
The coins brought John and his dad closer together. Until his dad became obsessed. Once John became a teenager, they didn’t talk much after that. I miss you so much. He comes up on the Tigress Kavahez and wonders what everyone’s watching, only to see the Twin Towers terrorist attack. She stands outside of her college listening to another voice as students she can’t really hear or see flood past her where she stands. Other soldiers extend their tour of duty. When John comes to see her, she ducks under the airport chords to get to him faster. Running to him, she jumps up into his arms and wraps her legs around him like a child. His dad is dressed up for the occasion, and Savannah begs him to come and meet her parents. They bring one of John’s dad’s casseroles. John’s dad freezes up and starts crying, and in panic about a social engagement asks them to take him home. He tries to get out of the car. They take him home, and he goes inside and will not come back out. John is very upset. “At least he tried,” Savannah tries to reassure him.
The movie takes a sharp turn at this point, and John and Savannah face some very serious life issues. John’s patriotism and strong desire to serve his country conflict with Savannah’s consideration of waiting two more years for him. Making him stay feels impossible to her, and she does not know what to do to get him to stay anyway. His dad feels so bad that he finally shows up at the airport to see John off. Savannah hugs John as if it’s the last time she’ll ever see him again, and having no way of knowing anything. The only thing she knows for certain is the endless trail of letters she writes and puts in snow white envelopes to mail to him. In conclusion, this movie makes you look at the American soldiers sent to fight the war in Afghanistan as a human person capable both of a range of great strength and heartfelt tears with great sorrow.
Although John’s military adviser tries to get him to leave the 437th Airlift squad and return home to face his serious life issues, something rebellious within him wants to cause him to neglect his girlfriend and his father. Crying, he reads the letter he wrote to his father about what he felt when he was shot. They finally hold hands and as his father lays dying on a hospital bed, they cry together like real men. Surfing in the rain later, after his father’s funeral, he watches a recent memory where the minister is in such a hurry to get the next funeral performed, that he rushes John out. John, now ready to slow down and pray and talk to his savior is denied. The final scene of the movie, which brings you to tears explains the sadness of how torn commitments of outside organizations seek to destory the deep and authentic real love relationship. John endures for the young woman he loves, and triumphs for a very heart touching ending. The songs of the movie include Let Her Gift Be Me, The Moon, and Little House. http://www.moviefone.com/showtimes/jefferson-city-mo/65109/theaters