Plot: What’s it about?
I’ve always been taken with true life stories that somehow make it to the big screen. Don’t ask me why, but the only reference I can think of is 2009’s Julie & Julia. In it a blogger started “cooking” her way through Julia Child’s book and it became a success. Obviously, it later went onto become a movie with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. What always got me was “what if I did that? What if I did the exact same thing that this person had done – would the results have been the same?” Anyway, that’s the “allure” for me. Looking at the title in question, however, we find A Journal for Jordan. Written by Dana Canedy, a writer for the New York Times, and Pulitzer winning author at that (though not for this title, she won for How Raced Is Lived in America). This, quite simply, is her story.
Dana Canedy (Chante Adams) was a reporter for The New York Times. She had no intention of falling for First Sgt. Charles Monroe King (Michael B. Jordan), but…life happens. We see as they met in the late 90’s, just prior to the world changing on 9/11. Charles has a daughter and is on the verge of divorce. The two start seeing one another with Charles going to New York. The only difference between them is that she’s career-driven. His passion is art, though serving his country is a calling as well. We find their relationship chronicled through some shifts in time, moving back and forth through various stages. Think of it as 500 Days of Summer.
And…that’s basically it. She reads the actual journal her son, though we don’t see a lot of the physical journal itself in the film. I found that odd. In short, this is set up like a tear-jerker and I’m sure there’ll be those that will shed one or two. Not me, though. Both Michael B. Jordan and Chante Adams are fine actors and the man behind the camera, Denzel Washington, has nothing to prove on either side. But this, I dunno…it just felt too by-the-book for me. It seemed manufactured for awards or to try to evoke an emotional response. Perhaps one area is that it’s constant going back and forth – just focus on the issue at hand and I think it’d have worked better.
Video: How’s it look?
The movie is beautifully shot with lots of extreme close ups, but they’re juxtaposed with some nice landscape vistas to even things out. The film is a bit dark in places, but Sony’s 2.39:1 AVC HD image seems to handle this with relative ease. Colors are strong, details are tack sharp and I was hard-pressed to find much, if anything, wrong with the way this looks.
Audio: How’s it sound?
This is a by-the-book DTS HD Master Audio sound mix that’s sure to please. The majority of the film is dialogue-driven and the vocals come across sounding just fine. There are some scattered surround effects for some added atmosphere and some rather natural noise that adds to the mix. It’s a good, but not great, mix that shouldn’t ruffle anyone’s feathers. It works.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Heart and Soul: Charles and Dana – The cast reflects on the relationship between Charles and Dana. We get a bit of backstory on the casting of both actors and, of course, the obligatory comments from the cast, crew and director Denzel Washington.
- Family Portrait: Making the Film – We get some insight from author Dana Canedy, but also delve back into the roots of the story. Some of the shooting locations are also featured and some differences between the book and film are noted.
- Words of Wisdom: The Journal – Writer Dana Canedy and stars Michael B. Jordan & Chanté Adams discuss the journal in question.
- Deleted Scenes – Seven are shown, but with a 131 minute running time, these were wisely cut.
- Gag Reel – Some antics on the set!
- Trailers – Other Sony titles are featured.
The Bottom Line
I’m sure there are those that will adore this film for its romantic undertones. Maybe others were a fan of the book by Dana Canedy. To me, however, it just seemed a bit too manufactured. Sony’s disc, naturally, looks and sounds great and there are enough supplements to warrant a purchase – if this movie is your thing.