‘A Journal for Jordan’ Summary & Review: A Fizzled Out Adaptation

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A young Jordan asks his mother, Dana Canedy, why they were fighting that war in the first place. Dana replied to him that it depended upon who you asked the question to. For the people of their nation, it was about freeing a country from a tyrant, but for others, it was the reason why they became terrorists in the first place. Directed by Denzel Washington, A Journal for Jordan tells us about a facet of human psychology, i.e., that times might be good or bad, but what is necessary is that you need to have a reason to move ahead at all times. As soon as your life becomes devoid of that motive that drives you, inspires you, and excites you, then you reach a state of stupor, where you perceive nothing.

The film has been adapted from the book by Dana Canedy, of the same name. Dana Canedy compiled the letters written by her partner, First Sergeant Charles Monroe King, played for the screen by the enigmatic Michael B. Jordan. She compiled it so that one day she would give it to her son, Jordan, so that he would understand her father in a better way. But at the same time, it was also a quest to get answers to the questions that Dana always wanted to ask from Charles.


‘A Journal for Jordan’ Plot Summary

Dana saw Charles for the first time in her parents’ house. She didn’t know him back then. He was putting a painting on the wall that he had brought as a present for Dana’s father, who was his drill sergeant back in the day. She asks him if the painting was made using the technique known as pointillism, which was pioneered by Georges Seurat. Charles confirms it and says that though it takes a bit more time, it is totally worth it.

Coincidently, the fact held true for the technique of pointillism as much as it did for Charles himself. Neither was he a flirt, nor was Dana a coquette. Dana was attracted, but she waited for Charles to make a move because she knew that it would be worth the wait. Charles opens up about his divorce and his relationship with his daughter.

Charles was a simple man. He didn’t believe in pretentiousness. He was what he was. Dana finds it a bit odd when she sees him wearing his sports shoes, even on occasions that demand a bit of swankiness. But Charles was not somebody who would make his choices based on what was publicly acceptable and what was not. He found it comfortable, so he wore it. He did not complicate things. If he liked something, he did it. He liked Dana and told her upfront that he wanted a committed relationship with her where she was his girlfriend officially. There were no ifs and buts when it came to Charles. Charles knew he was going to give it a shot.

Due to Dana being placed in New York and Charles in Kentucky, they end up having a lot of conversations over the phone. Dana asks him to have a baby with her. He agrees to it without even flinching and surprises Dana by asking her to marry him.

Charles leaves for Iraq to fight the war, but unfortunately, he never returns, leaving Dana and his baby boy, Jordan, alone. Dana was not able to marry him before he left. In the time being, when Jordan gets old enough to understand the journal written by his father, Dana gives it to him. She tells him about his father, the kind of man he was, and the values he abided by throughout his life. Jordan is not only able to comprehend his father’s inspirations, but he is also able to provide his mother with much-needed closure.


An Unmoved Adaptation

Though the narrative tries to touch on many things, it is greatly impassive in contrast to the subject matter that it tries to showcase. The eulogy by Jalon Christian, who plays Jordan, brings a much-needed respite from the stolid disposition of the narrative, but it is too little too late. The film does not go deep into what was mentioned in the journal but ends up taking just a breezy glance at it. The relationship that Charles would have tried to establish with his son, through the journal, could have been an aspect that could have given something more authentic to the screenplay.

The majority of the scenes focus on Dana and Charles’ relationship and how their bond grew eventually. Still, the proportion of significant things to the inconsequential ones is highly distorted. It leads to the narrative not being penetrative enough, even with Michael B. Jordan at the helm of affairs. The adaptation by Denzel Washington of such a touching memoir was unable to create that intensity and fizzled out after inconsistent jolts that felt short of emotions.


A Journal for Jordan is a 2021 Biopic Drama film directed by Denzel Washington.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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