A JOURNAL FOR JORDAN (NETFLIX) (2021)
SYNOPSIS: A JOURNAL FOR JORDAN is based on the true story of First Sergeant Charles Monroe King (Jordan), a soldier deployed to Iraq who begins to keep a journal of love and advice for his infant son. Back at home, senior New York Times editor Dana Canedy (Chanté Adams) revisits the story of her unlikely, life-altering relationship with King and his enduring devotion to her and their child. A sweeping account of a once-in-a-lifetime love, the film is a powerful reminder of the importance of family.
The great Denzel Washington went from directing Antwone Fisher to The Great Debaters to Fences and to this? This is a question you might ask yourself after watching A Journal for Jordan, a romantic drama adapted from a memoir by ex-New York Times editor Dana Canedy.
Not to discredit the work of Canedy but the movie adaptation fares more liked an African-American version of a typical Nicholas Sparks novel that features beautiful white man and woman. With little to distinguish itself from the sappy romantic titles in the market, it’s very much a wasted outing for Washington and leading man, Michael B. Jordan even though both are also serving as producers.
While the main theme is about the journal her late hubby kept for their infant son, the movie mostly derives from the perspective of Canedy (Chante Adams) who has a whirlwind romance with 1st Sergeant Charles Monroe King (Jordan), a thoughtful, handsome gentleman who loves the arts, God and his family.
Unavoidably, the first half is a romantic drama about two lovely people falling in love and getting together. Love is easy but staying together is the hardest as King must frequently go on his tour of duty and caring for his men on-and-off duty which Canedy finds hard to relate. But when you have two charismatic actors onscreen such as Jordan and Adams, it’s hard to fault the occasional over draggy and old-fashioned storyline as you probably be mesmerised by their sizzling chemistry than anything.
With the frequent use of awkward flashbacks and jump aheads, A Journal for Jordan starts to evolve into melodramatic territory in the third act. Obviously, it’s not so much of a spoiler to say that King is going to lose his life in Iraq and the emotional climax is simply about how Canedy’s celebrates King’s life with their now teenage son, Jordan and muses clumsily about politics, patriotism and fatherhood. Bear in mind she has been avoiding talking about her late partner with her son and friends all this time.
Perhaps A Journal for Jordan works better on paper than a feature length movie. And clearly, Washington’s stewardship doesn’t contribute much to the end material. It appears it has a lot to say given the various discussion on military, family and grief. Yet somehow, the real-life story just fail to translate convincingly onscreen.
Review by Linus Tee