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Saturday, December 18, 2021

A Journal For Jordan

“A Journal for Jordan,” actor turned director Denzel Washington’s latest film, chronicles the relationship between Dana Canedy (Chanté Adams), a journalist for “The New York Times,” and Charles Monroe King (Michael B. Jordan), a United States Army First Sergeant. From the start, we know that something bad has happened – Dana sits alone at her computer and begins typing a letter to their infant son Jordan, setting a somber tone. What exactly happened is saved for a later revelation, though you can probably guess.

Based on Canedy’s memoir “A Journal for Jordan: A Story of Love and Honor,” Washington’s movie weaves around the couple’s timeline. The story starts in the mid-2000s before jumping back to the late 90s to show Dana and Charles’ initial meeting. Charles is recently divorced with a daughter from the previous marriage. Neither the ex-wife nor the daughter is shown during the movie (although the daughter is mentioned several times), an angle that could have provided more depth for Jordan’s character.

Washington bounces around in time throughout the film. Often, the year is given to us, which at least gives the viewer an idea of whether the event is before or after the birth of Jordan. In other moments, the title card solely says “Six Months Later…” We can only assume that the six months later refers to the previous year shown. There are also a handful of moments where time switches and the only designator is a detail in the scene. For example, a television newscast of a significant event reveals the date at one point. It’s not necessarily confusing, it’s just a little obnoxious.

Overall, “A Journal for Jordan” is a drama. While there are comedic moments, at least there were multiple spots where the audience loudly laughed, the main focus of the film is on the romance between Dana and Charles. Adams and Jordan give average lead performances. Nothing about these roles would make someone exclaim either performer as great actors. They aren’t bad performances, those are all given by the supporting cast (especially Jalon Christian who plays an older Jordan), they just aren’t noteworthy.

The pacing is atrocious – the film’s biggest pitfall. “A Journal for Jordan” moves along at a snail’s pace. Washington bores the audience with what could have been a moving story. Scenes drag on forever. It feels like it takes an eternity for the film to wrap up. Mixed with the acting, this was a little on the torturous side.

Washington’s film is to be released on Christmas Day. It seems better suited for a Valentine’s Day release. It’s a dramedy/tear-jerker that attempts to tug at its viewers’ heartstrings. Perhaps the studio was hoping this would be another award contender like Washington’s previous film, 2016’s “Fences.” Whatever season this is viewed in, it’s a stinker. This is a disappointing follow-up.

(Review by Bret Oswald)

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