Monday, February 15, 2010

At the Movies: Dear John

Last night the bf and I went to see Dear John. As you may recall, I'd reread the book recently to refresh my memory and decided that I was finally at peace with Savannah ending up with Tim. There were several little details in the book that suggested things may turn out that way, and however sad it was that she wasn't with John, I made up my mind that it was for the best (see my other post tagged Dear John for more on this). So when I went to the movie, I was dying to see what they'd change (because you know that they always change something.)

Minor things here and there were different. In some cases, the order of events had been altered. But most notably, all those little telltale details foretelling John and Savannah's undoing were missing. So, it shouldn't have been a surprise to me when the ending was different. (Warning: if you haven't seen this movie yet and want to, you should probably stop reading here. Although quite frankly, the damage has probably already been done.) Tim dies. John still leaves him all of the coin money, but he dies anyway. Savannah tells John all of this in one last letter. The last scene shows Savannah in a restaurant window. John walks by, their eyes meet, and they hug, the implication clear that they'll be together.

So, how did I feel about this? Was I outraged, after I'd so carefully and maturely worked out all the reasons Savannah was meant for Tim in the book? Well, no. I was happy. Because the movie gave me (and I'm guessing lots of other readers) what I'd always secretly wanted from the book, and that was a happy ending for John and Savannah that made sense. In the movie, John doesn't visit Savannah at college, so there's no scene where she blows him off for her friends. In the movie, John doesn't just re-enlist in the army after 9/11 and then tell Savannah about it in a letter; he comes home to discuss it with her. Also, in the movie Tim is much older than Savannah (Alan is his son, not his brother), and he isn't the overly nice and nerdy guy he is in the book. In fact, he's more creepy older neighbor than lifelong best friend.

In this way, I guess the movie was simpler than the book. Savannah's never really in love with two men, and her husband dies, making it easy. Some may say the movie had a classic (read, cookie-cutter) Hollywood ending, and maybe that's true. But I think buying that completely is a cop-out. The book and the movie are just two different versions of the same story, showing that it's the seemingly insignificant events that make all the difference in how things do and should turn out. Although I loved the book, the movie's magic wasn't lost on me. Far from it, to be honest. I cried buckets.

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