"A Journal for Jordan" stars Michael B. Jordan, Chanté Adams, Robert Wisdom, Johnny M. Wu, Jalon Christian, and Tamara Tunie. Releasing on December 25, 2021, the film is about a woman who shares her late husband's journal with her son.
The film is directed by Denzel Washington, who also directed "Antwone Fisher", "The Great Debaters", and "Fences". It is based on the memoir of the same name by Dana Canedy. No gift's more thoughtful than a father's journal. On some occasions, you just want to spend the holiday season watching a film that brings a tear to your eye. This year is that occasion. Denzel Washington has proven time and again that he's not only one of the most talented and charismatic actors to date but also one of the finest filmmakers. Since 2002, Washington has been quite successful with his directorial efforts, especially the 2016 film adaptation of August Wilson's "Fences", which I thought was fantastic. Now, he's seeking to continue his winning streak with a film that tells the true story of Dana Canedy and her husband's wholehearted gift to their son. The film doesn't hit theaters until Christmas Day, but I happened to score an opportunity to attend an early access screening at my cinema a while ago. I can tell that all of you Denzel Washington fans are incredibly jealous, but on the bright side, you get to know how good it is very early from yours truly. To quote Maui: What can I say except "you're welcome"? With that said, let's see if this latest drama is a lovely Christmas gift for the actor's followers.
The story centers on Dana Canedy (Adams) and her husband, Charles Monroe King (Jordan), a U.S. marine. One day, King is deployed in Iraq, leaving Dana to take care of their son Jordan (Christian) alone. King wrote a journal of love and advice to share with his son before his tragic death on duty. Dana reflects on her romance with King while Jordan learns about his father via his journal. Denzel Washington has directed the last three films he also starred in. However, for "A Journal for Jordan", Washington only takes over directing duties while Michael B. Jordan leads the cast, making this the first film for Washington to do so. Based on my experience with "Fences", I had a hunch that he would handle this challenge without any problems regarding his direction. After watching it for myself, it turned out that my hunch was correct. While it's far from Washington's best work, the film delivered plenty of subtlety and inspiration to make this a good date movie. The film is about as traditional as any boy-meets-girl movie can get when it comes to the story. It featured a non-linear narrative involving Dana sharing Charles's journal with Jordan and flashbacks depicting Dana and King's relationship. It's an ordinary romantic drama that didn't offer anything new to the table and got a bit too carried away with its two-hour-plus runtime. Fortunately, Washington's execution for its formula has enough merits to carry out its duty in providing a kind-hearted and charismatic reflection of love and honor. Instead of going extreme with the drama, Washington went with a more delicate approach, not just for the concept but also for the characters' conversations. He displayed the emotions calmly and sincerely instead of having the characters scream or overreact towards each other every few minutes, all while focusing on making the cast as endearing as possible. Even though his direction might not fit well for everyone regarding its pacing and lack of tension, it did help in delivering a more comfortable and inspiring experience for those who needed a break from the superhero action and frenetic cartoons. Michael B. Jordan was just as stunning as always, thanks to his performance as Charles. Jordan portrayed Charles as an honorable and serene soldier who's torn between the love of his life and the duty he swore to perform. It may not be a perfect representation of the character, but it did show further proof that Jordan is still one of the most talented actors working in Hollywood today. However, the real star of the show was Chanté Adams, who assumed the role of Dana. Adams was tasked to carry the film with her performance, whether Jordan's alongside her or not, and admittedly, she did a suitable job fulfilling that task. I hadn't seen that much of her in her other films except last year's "The Photograph", so I'm hoping this movie helps her land more roles soon. Jalon Christian also didn't do too bad as Jordan. As for its screenplay by Virgil Williams, it's pretty much what you would expect out of a romantic drama: heartfelt yet a bit corny in some places. Thankfully, the dialogue is suitable enough to carry its emotional weight effectively without going too deep into Hallmark movie territory.
Overall, "A Journal for Jordan" is an appealing and uplifting drama that's suitably romantic and subtly comforting. It's a step down from Washington's previous film, "Fences", regarding its formula and runtime. Nonetheless, it's a thoughtful portrayal of love and the remembrance of those who inspired others to share it. Thanks to its solid cast, Washington's direction, and endearing script, the film proved to be an acceptable choice for date night this holiday season. If you want to watch something more relaxing and heartwarming than a movie filled with explosive action and singing animals, make sure you check this one out when it releases on Christmas.