Superb Romantic Movie “Dear John” connects due to life experiences


I’m 70 years old – a movie-loving girl, woman, former wife of an aspiring film director (now deceased), TV and radio broadcaster, mother, stepmother and grandmother. I’ve been going to the movies since I was a small child and reviewing motion pictures since 1971. I learned long ago that I bring my personal experience to each film. That fact is especially true in this case.

Color me a total romantic who has had to heal a broken heart many times during my life. For me, “Dear John” is a sensitive, beautiful film and an intense theatrical experience. I was swept away by the handsome actors, location photography, sun, sea and sand – as well as the story. The fictional circumstances are blended with real events in this drama. They were remarkably close to actual happenings in my extraordinary life. Others moments reflected many of the difficult choices made by lovers.

I didn’t read Nicholas Sparks’ novel. You shouldn’t have to read a book before you see a movie. I have heard that the movie ends differently from the book, but that doesn’t affect my feelings. Scriptwriter Jamie Linden and Director Lasse Hallstr√∂m have done their work well. This film’s theme is romantic love – found, delayed, broken, and repaired. The beauty and intensity of the film is brought it to a climactic ending that is really a second beginning.

Channing Tatum (John Tyree) is a new talent. Born in 1980, he fulfills all my prerequisites: Adorable young man, great physique, and believable acting. I predict he will go far.

Amanda Seyfried (Savannah Curtis) is one of my favorite young actresses. Born in 1985, she is the same age as our oldest granddaughter! Amanda is wonderful on HBO’s “Big Love." She was saucy in the movie “Mamma Mia.” Her gorgeous ethereal eyes and cornsilk hair do it for me. I just adore blondes! (I’m a brunette.)

Richard Jenkins is very believable as the tightly-wound father of the lead character, Mr. Tyree. Perhaps there could have been more of an explanation of his obsessed personality – as he did the same things over and over again. I could just feel his panic when he was invited to a social event.

My 41-year-old daughter also liked “Dear John.” I didn’t discuss her reasons with her, but I did see her dabbing her eyes with a tissue. It wasn’t allergies. I spoke to some of the women in the audience after the movie. The script pleased most of them, but it might be too skimpy or syrupy for others. This is one film where I will probably be one of a few reviewers who liked “Dear John.” As we used to say in film school, “It’s always ‘Rashomon’ at the movies.” That classic 1950 Japanese movie shows how several different people react to the same situation.

I’m giving "Dear John" a “B+” on Ellen’s Entertainment Report Card. The film is rated PG-13 for some sensuality and violence.

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Backstory: I telephoned my first boyfriend this week for his birthday. He was born on Feb. 4, 1936. We dated in the mid-1950s when we were teenagers. He and his older brother still live in the Miami area. His nickname is “Al” – the same as my “current” husband. (I’ve had three husbands.) I’ve been in touch with “Al G.” since 2005, when another movie stirred me to call him in order to apologize for my behavior. I sent him a “Dear John” letter when he was in Basic Training in South Carolina in 1957. It wasn’t wartime, but I still hurt someone whom I had loved for years. I had no choice. I was only 18 years old and had fallen in love with another man born on February 4th…

Eventually, I married a UCLA classmate who had returned from the U.S. Army. He comforted me with beautiful letters when a year-long first marriage ended in hospitalization and the birth of a stillborn girl. Our marriage in December 1963 produced two beautiful children, but Peter R. told me he didn't love me and left in 1970 to start a relationship with a divorced woman. I had to raise my toddlers alone and support them. The children were ages 2 and 1, born 14 months apart. A radio talk show job opened up in Boston in May 1972 due to affirmative action and I landed it. That summer, I met a widower whose wife had died of cancer in 1971. He had three delightful children, ages 13, 11 and 8. He placed an advertisement in the Boston Globe newspaper for a housekeeper. I answered his advertisement, spoke with him for two hours, and then invited him on a blind date. He tells me that I sounded a little desperate!

We married on Sunday, February 4, 1973, with five children from two previous relationships. I thought it would be good luck to marry on the birthday of two former lovers and my maternal grandfather, Martin Kovacs. I was right! Today marks our 37th Wedding Anniversary. Cordially, Ellen_K.

Thursday, February 4, 2010