A Journal For Jordan Review

A Journal For Jordan
First Sergeant Charles Monroe King’s (Jordan) deployment to Iraq puts his life and relationship with partner Dana Canedy (Chanté Adams) in jeopardy. Fearing he might not make it home, he pens a heartfelt journal for his newborn son, Jordan (Christian).

by Whelan Barzey |
Published on
Release Date:

21 Jan 2022

Original Title:

A Journal For Jordan

If Denzel Washington’s last directorial outing Fences was an Academy Award-nominated portrayal of dysfunctional families, then A Journal For Jordan is its cutesy, cookie-cutter follow-up. Based on the memoirs of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dana Canedy, it’s a thin, mostly uneventful relationship flick, enlivened by engaging performances by Chanté Adams and Michael B. Jordan.

Virgil Williams’ screenplay sketches Canedy’s love story with First Sergeant Charles Monroe King (Jordan) as a melodrama without the 
drama (a melo). In a typical case of career-over-everything, Dana’s pursuit of success in her career as a New York Times journalist sees her put matters of the heart on the back burner. However, a (not-so) chance encounter puts King — a soldier who had served under her father — on her doorstep.

A Journal For Jordan

The two quickly form the type of mushy union that you would find nestled in a Valentine’s Day card that plays Stevie Wonder jingles when you open it: dates in Central Park, coyness about the sleeping arrangements, a bit — remember this is 2022 — where neither of the lovestruck couple can end a phone call (“No, you hang up”). It’s a sweet-natured but not particularly gripping love story, the only fly in the ointment coming when Dana gets upset when Charles doesn’t call because he’s looking after one his soldiers. It feels contrived, and sets up a thematic idea around a soldier caught between his relationship and loyalty to his unit that never becomes compelling.

It’s a movie that does everything it can to dissipate tension.

Washington’s direction feels more small-screen than big — save an impressionistic opening teasing Charlie’s death, he does little of interest with framing, lighting or editing — and the film’s criss-crossing timelines are difficult to keep track of. To make matters more disjointed, it forgets to make space for either of the things mentioned 
in the film’s title, Jordan (Jalon Christian, charming) and the journal (some feat considering the film is over two hours long). Both feel shoehorned in at the end in a film that becomes completely detached from its first act. It’s a movie that does everything it can to dissipate tension — we know Dana and Charles’ relationship works out because they have a son, and we learn Charles is killed on duty in Iraq from the get-go. As such, A Journal For Jordan plays out like a two-hour formality.

Still, Adams and Jordan are an endearing couple, the former strong as a woman who struggles with affection, shaded by her military upbringing; the latter as a wide-eyed soldier with an unlikely knack for pointillist paintings, finding some nakedly emotional moments to round out his polite-to-a-fault soldier. The pair create authentic exchanges of affection which, in an age where Black love stories that aren’t rooted in trauma are a rarity in Hollywood, is refreshing. It’s just a shame that the rest of the film couldn’t match up to them.

A Journal For Jordan is probably better suited to the page than the screen. Despite winning chemistry from Michael 
B. Jordan and Chanté Adams, Denzel Washington’s film etches a romance that rarely delivers substance or surprises.
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