Review by Dan Skip Allen
Denzel Washington is one of the most prolific actors of his generation, having won two Academy Awards in his career for Glory and Training Day. He isn't is as prolific as a director. He has directed three previous films before A Journal For Jordan: Antwone Fisher, The Great Debaters, and Fences. His latest film is a bit more of an undertaking, though. It's not set in one or two locations like his previous films are.
His latest film is based on a true story. It depicts the events involving a relationship between Dana Canedy (Chanté Adams, The Photograph) and Charles Monroe King (Micheal B Jordan, Creed) who meet at a family barbecue at Dana's parents' house. Having a long-distance relationship worked out at first, but they eventually get serious and move in together. They are madly in love with one another, eventually having a son, the namesake of the film.
This film is one of the best films I've ever seen about relationships and love. Dana Canedy wrote the book the film is based on. There is a lot of romance and courting going on in the story. It's the small touches that Washington adds that are most effective, like the shoes King wears, or the leg shaving scenes before sex that make this film intimate and touching. Washington handles all the little details like a seasoned pro in the director's chair. He might make the transition from acting to a full-time director if he keeps making films this good.
Monroe is a soldier in the United States Army when he and Canedy meet. This adds a different dynamic to the story because he is constantly coming and going from Canedy's life. It is a little tricky for such a couple to work, but it does in spades... until 9/11 happens. That changes everything for the burgeoning couple. King's duty to his soldiers gets in the way of his love life. But he doesn't want to choose — he wants both in his life.
Washington's experience with Courage Under Fire prepared him to do the military scenes. He was spot on with all the marching the cadence of the songs sung during the marching. The verbiage of the military scenes was very good. The prop master supplied the film with humvees and costumes to match this time during American history. The Iraq war followed 9/11. The mixture of civilian scenes and military scenes was a nice dichotomy to one another. It broke up what was a beautiful heartwarming romance.
The script by Virgil Williams and John Burnham Swartz did a very admirable job adapting the book the film is based on. The performances by Adams and Jordan are first-rate. They show what a real loving relationship can be on the big screen. Other romantic films can take note from this one. The film flows from military scenes and civilian scenes seamlessly. Washington has shown he has gotten better with each directing turn he has made. This film is a reward for all those who seek it out and invest their time in watching it. They won't regret it.
A Journal for Jordan hits theaters on December 25.