‘A Journal for Jordan’ is based on a memoir by Dana Canedy. It tracks how 1st Sergeant Charles Monroe King (Michael B. Jordan) and Dana (Chanté Adams) fell in love and eventually had a son together, Jordan. In his spare time while serving, Charles pens a journal for his child, full of advice on life and love. Sadly, tragedy strikes the family when Charles is killed in Iraq. As Jordan approaches teenagehood, Dana reflects on their time together.
When we first meet Dana – who is played fantastically by Chanté Adams – she’s a single mother struggling to do it all. Fighting for better assignments at the New York Times, a debate is cut short when her male colleagues notice she is leaking through her shirt. At home, her newborn cries and cries, but reading to him from his father’s journal appears to sooth the baby.
What follows is a crossover between past and present, with flashbacks dominating, kicking off with a sweet and friendly first exchange between Dana and Charles, one is relieved to note that it is far from your average, cingeworthy, romantic comedy “meet cute.” The pair’s relationship and developing chemistry feels organic. Dana is all too adorably relatable and clumsy as she sleeps in and gets food on her face while having lunch with the dashing Charles.
Adams is thoroughly lovable while Michael B. Jordan, as always, is an effortless charmer. The many phone calls between their two characters are touching and laden with emotion, be it longing or frustration. You feel for Dana as Charles consistently puts his loyalty to his men ahead of commitments to her. But the love between the characters is undeniable, they’ve fallen for each other hard and fast.
The romance at the heart of ‘A Journal for Jordan’ is the main thing going for the feature, but it feels drawn out for a feature that runs for over 2 hours. There’s little drama or suspense to the proceedings. Moreover, it seems ambiguous as to its message about war – there are indications that war is futile, but there’s also a heroicisation of servitude. The film seems afraid to offend anyone.
Helmed by Denzel Washington, this is far from the standard of his last directorial effort, ‘Fences’, which was complex, multi-layered and nuanced. Big romantics (and, let’s be honest, Michael B. Jordan fans) should appreciate the feature, in any case.