A Journal for Jordan
Based on her memoir, A Journal for Jordan sees journalist Dana Canedy (Chanté Adams) raise her young son (Jalon Christian) alone following her military boyfriend’s (Michael B. Jordan) death in Iraq. Directed by Denzel Washington, this weepy is crying out for awards but looks more like a Netflix Christmas movie than a piece of Oscar bait. Without the interesting characters who populated Washington’s last feature Fences (which was written by playwright August Wilson), A Journal for Jordan (which was not) lacks the authenticity or nuance required to make the real-life drama feel lifelike.
It starts by showing the couple’s whirlwind romance, an idyllic love story that leaves no trope untrodden. When they do the classic “Hang up,” “No you hang up” routine, Canedy speaks for the audience: “Are we really doing this right now?”. The idealised scenario is intended to make the tragedy hit harder, but portraying these real people as cheesy Hallmark characters has the opposite effect. In a romcom, the objectification of Jordan’s character might appear refreshing; in the true story of a man’s death, it seems misplaced. This objectification covers not just his physique but also his values. He is patriotism personified, an all-American hero whose only crime was a commitment to serving his country.
Where Clint Eastwood’s conservative pictures might pose uncomfortable questions, this film goes out of its way to avoid them. It spends most of its two-plus hours reminding us that First Sergeant Charles Monroe King is a soldier yet only has one line about the Iraq War; an odd decision for a film whose protagonist – and indeed the writer of the source material – is a New York Times journalist. That Canedy has continued to thrive professionally will come as little comfort to the hundreds of army widows left in debt, nor the veterans systematically failed by the US Government.
A Journal for Jordan is not required to take that angle, but it does need an angle of some description. It is too clean and tidy, its tender reality obscured by the synthetic sheen of perfection and sickly smearing of schmaltz. Unless the Academy introduce an award for Best Foreplay Involving a Mr Potato Head T-Shirt, everyone in this production will have to watch the ceremony at home.
A Journal for Jordan is released nationwide on 21st January 2022.
Watch the trailer for A Journal for Jordan here: