Nicholas Sparks has a track record of making me cry. I have watched most of the movies that are based on his novels: Message in a Bottle with Kevin Costner and Robin Wright Penn, A Walk to Remember with Mandy Moore and Shane West, The Notebook with Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling, Nights in Rodanthe with Richard Gere and Diane Lane, and most recently, Dear John with Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried.
I think the brilliance of Nicholas Sparks lies in how his readers, or movie-watchers in this case, can relate to his characters and to what's happening in their lives. His premises are not out of this world - love, death, loneliness, illness, and war - which is probably why it is easy for people to imagine themselves in the shoes of the characters.
In Dear John - Channing & Amanda fall in love while he was on leave from the military and she was on vacation from college. At the end of the whirlwind courtship of two weeks - he has to go back to war and she has to go back to school. They promise to write each other so that they feel connected even though they are miles apart.
Before Channing is scheduled to finish his tour - the 9/11 terrorist attack happens. His team is eager to extend their tour to help defend their country. He tells Amanda - she does not approve, but lets him go back.
During this second separation Amanda does not write. She gets married and he decides to make the military his career. He goes back because his father has a stroke and eventually passes away. He goes to see her and finds out that she had married the kind neighbor with the autistic kid instead of the jerk who liked her during their two-week courtship. He also finds out that her husband is dying of cancer and they have lost all their money trying to prolong his life. He sells his father's coin collection and donates the proceeds to the couple anonymously. Amanda writes to tell him about this and to inform him that her husband had died two months after being able to come home.
The ending is vague - they meet at a coffee shop, she a widow and he still single. My husband and I are debating what could have happened. He thinks they will just remain friends because Channing's feelings have gone, but I think they will continue where they left off and get married. What do you think?
Nicholas Sparks managed to explore another disease in this movie. In The Notebook, he depicted how Alzheimer's could affect a relationship. This time he explored the intricacies of Autism, the diagnosed type in Amanda's stepson and the undiagnosed mild case of Channing's father. My father-in-law had a mild case of Alzheimer's and I was able to relate to what happened in The Notebook, but I had no experience with Autism - and the movie opened my eyes to what it would be like to have a relationship with an autistic person who was never diagnosed.
It did not make me cry as much as the other movies based on Nicholas Sparks' novels because it still had that inkling of a happy ending - the lead characters did not die here. I give it two thumbs up! It's a great DVD to see with the one you love - a conversation starter that can deepen your relationship in the long run.
Have a great movie night, my friends!