For those looking for the return of blockbuster romance, you might get a taste, but not a full-course meal, with “A Journal for Jordan.” The primary elements of romantic dramas like love, humor and sadness were present in the film, but it lacked the element of over-the-top drama some may be seeking from a movie like this.
The explanation for the lackluster seems to be because “A Journal for Jordan” is based on a true story.
With this backdrop, the actors in the film portrayed the realness of their roles to achieve a true to life story which is rare in romantic dramas. But in that effort to portray the realness of the story through acting, the film overall lacked some of the juiciest qualities of romantic dramas, which was drama.
Although, the realness provides the viewer with a sincere look into the love story that makes “A Journal for Jordan.” The genuine and almost innocent nature of the love story make it feels real, as though anyone could put themselves into the shoes of the characters who lead relatively simple, humble lives.
In turn, however, there isn’t any real climax or action within the film. As a result, the raw, true nature of this story caused the movie to feel slower at times as romance-drama movies can do.
But the romantic element and story touched the audience, as I heard laughs and sniffles (mine included).
With this realness in the storytelling, the cinematography felt mismatched at times like the opening scene.
The opening of the film seemed disjointed from how the story unfolded. It started with a spurt of action meant to pull you into the story. This storytelling technique often starts off with a fight scene that throws you into the plot, or in the case of “A Journal for Jordan,” its simply distorting clips cut together of what will unfold during the next two hours.
This style of drawing the viewer into the plot is used well and frequently in action movies, but wasn’t successful in this. It is a romantic drama that doesn’t need to begin with a spout of clips to set up a film which lacked action or much fast-pace scenes.
The opening scene is jarring especially in this film about the trials and tribulations of the love story between a journalist, Dana Canedy (Chante Adams), in New York City, and Army 1st Sgt. Charles Monroe King (Michael B. Jordan). However, the rationale for this opening scene makes sense because all the clips appear later in the film which helped the viewer piece it together. Other people may disagree, though, because it did manage to set the scene for the rest of the movie.
Despite that critique, the first scene of the movie didn’t take away from what is at the heart of this film: a love story. The premise of the film is based on a journal that King wrote and left for his son Jordan (Jalon Christian).
During King’s deployment, he was working on a journal to be given to Jordan. But, not much of that is shown in the film aside from a few scenes, and Jordan receiving the journal to read it for its intended purpose is toward the end, which left me wanting more. However, the story is not told from King’s perspective so naturally the viewer isn’t let into his character’s motives.
Instead, the primary thread of the film was Canedy retelling her and King’s relationship through the lens of writing a book about their love story as told in flashbacks.
In a way, Canedy’s book itself additionally defines the meaning of the title of the film, since she does not seem to share much about King to their son. In writing about King, it’s almost like the book she is writing becomes a second form of “a journal for Jordan” to get to know who his dad was and not only what King thought and wanted to share with his son.
Thinking about the film like that makes it more powerful because the aspect of King writing the journal is not front and center in this movie.
The acting from Jordan and Adams and their on-screen chemistry is what elevates this movie to help the viewer experience a part of it too. Both of them portrayed the roles of the characters in a meaningful way that made the viewer believe in the raw, realness of this movie.
It’s a powerful love story, as many Americans have had to experience having their spouses or loved ones fighting in a war overseas. So, it is a relatable story rarely told as simple and normal as “A Journal for Jordan.”
In that regard, it succeeds in its purpose as being a heartwarming romance movie that is fitting to release around the holidays.