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A Journal for Jordan Movie Review

A Journal for Jordan (2021) movie poster A Journal for Jordan

Theatrical Release: December 25, 2021

Running Time: 131 Minutes

Rating: PG-13

Director: Denzel Washington

Writers: Virgil Williams (screenplay); Dana Canedy (memoir A Journal for Jordan: A Story of Love and Honor)

Cast: Michael B. Jordan (1st Sergeant Charles Monroe King), ChantÚ Adams (Dana Canedy), Jalon Christian (Jordan), Robert Wisdom (Sergeant T.J. Canedy), Johnny M. Wu (Manny), Tamara Tunie (Penny Canedy), Marchüant Davis (Mike Canedy)


Denzel Washington manages to disappoint on both sides of the camera this holiday season. In addition to starring in Joel Coen's striking but dull monochromatic The Tragedy of Macbeth,
Washington returns to directing on A Journal for Jordan, an oddly inert romantic drama you'd never guess was from someone who last gave us Fences.

Washington again has a Pulitzer Prize winner on his side, but in this case, author Dana Canedy won for the series "How Raced Is Lived in America" and not the 2008 memoir that forms the basis for this slow, corny, hollow film. It tells the story of how Canedy (played here by ChantÚ Adams), a reporter for the New York Times, falls for divorced Army sergeant Charles Monroe King (Michael B. Jordan) and embarks upon a primarily long-distance relationship with him.

The titular journal barely features in the film and it's not clear why. It runs well over two hours with almost nothing to justify that length. The movie is meant to be a tearjerker, but it never earns those tears, instead simply boring you numb with its inexplicably methodical and unremarkable love story. It plays out largely like a Hallmark romance but with less of the seasonal fun you might expect given the timing.

ChantÚ Adams and Michael B. Jordan star as co-parents to a newborn in "A Journal for Jordan."

How Washington, one of the most commanding actors of our time and a director of increasing renown, could make something you mistake for a Hallmark movie is a puzzle. What value laid in Canedy's memoir is obscure in the screenplay by Virgil Williams, whose previous adaptation Mudbound earned him an Academy Award nomination. And Jordan, the person in front of the camera you've come to trust over the past decade for knockout performances in films like Fruitvale Station and Creed,
gives us a flat leading man, doing nothing to inject the standard issue relationship squabbles with something distinct or substantial. Washington's only direction to Jordan appears to have been "Play this like a younger me would have" and the actor does succeed at providing a young Denzel impression that is perfectly on point when you close your eyes.

But the journalist and drill sergeant are paper-thin characters and thus it is incredibly difficult to be moved by their playful phone calls, romantic gestures, and relationship setbacks here. A Valentine's Day opening would have freed this from awards season expectations and multiplex competition this is in no shape to stand up to. But I don't think Sony is sweating the box office numbers right now, as their latest Spider-Man has swung to a billion dollars worldwide in ten days with opportune Oscar buzz beginning to rightly materialize.

Related Reviews:
Now in Theaters: Spider-Man: No Way Home Ľ King Richard Ľ The Tragedy of Macbeth Ľ West Side Story
Starring Michael B. Jordan: Creed Ľ Creed II Ľ Fruitvale Station Ľ Black Panther
Directed by Denzel Washington: Fences

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Reviewed December 27, 2021.

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