Starring: Chante Adams, Michael B. Jordan, Jalon Christian as Jordan
Directed: Denzel Washington
Summary: Based on a true story, while 1st Sergeant Charles Monroe King is deployed in Iraq, he keeps a journal of love and advice for his infant son. Sharing this journal with her son, his fiancée, Dana Canedy reflects on her unlikely yet powerful romantic relationship with King
This review will be different from the others only because I can’t quite figure out how to do a proper “pros” and “cons” as I would normally do. I do my reviews that way because it helps me keep my thoughts precise and it’s very rare that it doesn’t work for me but this movie doesn’t seem to work in my usual format. I hate the idea of doing a review like this but I think it’s the best way to go about.
With that said… on with the review.
So, a Journal for Jordan is based off the book written by the real life Dana Canedy “A Journal for Jordan: A Story of Love and Honor.”
In this film, Dana Canedy (Adams), a journalist for the New York Times (I think lol) meets and falls in love with Charles King (Jordan), a 1st Sergeant. In the beginning, we see Dana annoyed that her boss wants to add another reporter to her story and her having a newborn and needing to pump milk is basically used against her as to why she can’t handle it alone. We then flashback to the past where Dana first meets Charles, he is hanging a picture he made for her father. They talk, he’s respectable, calling her “ma’am” and all that and she makes up a story for him to have to give her a ride so they can spend some more time together. She learns that he’s spent a lot of time with her parents, who basically became parental figures to him. As the film goes on, we see their relationship, and it’s cute but they have their strains, such as living in different locations. But they manage to make it work even with some realistic arguments.
After the events of 9/11, Charles is deployed and Dana gives him a journal to write down his thoughts to his unborn child. Unfortunately, Charles dies while in Iraq, and Dana is left, unmarried to raise their child alone. The rest of the movie focuses on Dana and Jordan as he grows up and meets his father through the journal.
So first, the good things, I think that Chante Adams is extremely beautiful, talented and really commands the screen. While getting to know Dana, you believe she is a young, spirited and talented reporter whose romantic experience is marred by the relationship between her parents and that shows in her reservations in dating Charles. I love Michael B. Jordan and generally think he is a great actor and while I think he’s overall fine, I do feel like he’s a little overshadowed by Chante Adams, not to mention, his character is kind of bland. I feel like the romance is there and they really try hard to make us invested in their relationship which I think happens in the beginning, these two actors are so beautiful together, and I think they have chemistry to an extent, not to mention they are so different, so it works… at first. But, I also love that this is a black love story where they don’t trauma bond or meet out of trauma. I liked that we got to know Dana’s story with her family, which allows us to understand her reactions to things more. It was cute seeing them flirt and navigate a long distance relationship. The direction of the film is okay, it feels very dream-like, which could be attributed to the fact that it’s a story being recounted in a journal, and it works sometimes. I also understand what the “lesson to be learned” in the end, when a teenage Jordan gets to be more involved with the story. It has some emotional beats and I can imagine some viewers tearing up, but for me, it didn’t quite make that emotional impact.
As for what I didn’t like. I think the film doesn’t quite have the heart I think it thinks it has. While the acting is good and the characters are ultimately fine, it feels very surface in how the story is told. I think it’s boring honestly. As I said before, MBJ is a great actor in my opinion but I feel like his character was pretty bland, there wasn’t anything really interesting about him. He was almost “too perfect”. The movie also really wants to be romantic and while it has its moments, they feel really shallow. Their relationship starts out really cute but I wasn’t as into it as I was in the beginning. One of the things that made me roll my eyes, is Dana travels to another city and Charles was supposed to meet her there, since they were long distance anyway, but she doesn’t hear from him the entire day. It turned out that one of his cadets was in the hospital, I think with his pregnant wife, and Charles wanted to be there for him. I thought Dana had a right to be upset, he could have called her and told her that, but I also thought her accusing him of lying was her being super extra. That entire scene, was meant to show that Dana is afraid that he’s cheating like her dad to her mom, but if you cut it out, doesn’t really add anything. As for the way the movie is set up, Charles is recounting this story in a journal to his son, and it’s just really boring, and I feel like it could have been told in a different way. It feels like a made for television movie. Then, the stuff in the last act of the movie, almost feels like a different movie. There’s a lesson to be learned but it’s not earned. It doesn’t have the heart I think it wants to have. When I watched the special features, people seemed to be invested in this particular story, but I don’t feel like that investment was fully felt in the storytelling of the film.
In the end, I think A Journal for Jordan is an okay film. I think there was a lot of love within the story, because of the true story but I think it would be better suited for a television film or to remain a book. At least because of how it was presented. There isn’t anything to really dislike but there isn’t a ton to really like. I’m sure there will be people who really like and/or love this film. I liked the acting and I liked the idea of the story, black love deserves to be told in a pure and romantic way as well, but this movie didn’t quite achieve what it set out to achieve, in my opinion.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
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Thanks for reading!