Rated PG-13 for some sexuality.
Directed By: Nick Cassavetes
Written By: Jon Sardi
Based On The Novel By: Nicolas Sparks
Staring: Ryan Rosling, James Marsden, Rachel McAdams, James Garner, Gena Rowlands, Sam Shepard, Joan Allen, and Ed Grady-
So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be really hard. We’re gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, for ever, you and me, every day. Will you do something for me, please? Just picture your life for me? 30 years from now, 40 years from now? What’s it look like? If it’s with him, go. Go! I lost you once, I think I can do it again. If I thought that’s what you really wanted. But don’t you take the easy way out. -Noah
One problem I always have with movies of this sort is the over sentimentality of men in them. If men really acted the way they are portrayed in most romance films they would get one title: stalker. In the real world most of the romanticized characters fiction has created wouldn’t work, because reality just wouldn’t accept those kind of extremes or behavior. Sure, movies aren’t always about dealing in reality. While movie love isn’t real, I’ve always felt too many women (and some men) try to overlap this fantasy with reality, and it just doesn’t work. If a story can be just that: a story about two people, then this kind of “romance” can work, but if the characters and tale is nothing more than a manipulative excuse to tug on the heartstrings of the lovesick and romantics, I find myself beyond forgiveness. Luckily The Notebook falls closer into the category of the first.
Vacationing in the country a family of upper class folk spend a summer vacationing with their seventeen year old daughter who falls madly in love with a boy from across the tracks. Predictable complications occur and the two split. Noah wants Allie back and when she returns New York he writes her a letter everyday. Unknown to him or Allie, Allies mother had been intercepting the letters and keeping them. Thinking each had forgotten the other they move on and seven years later Allie is engaged to a handsome man that comes from money. The part of her that is still pining for Noah impulsively leaves on a trip to see him and get the closure she needs to move on.
Without doubt there were moments where I realized Ryan Gosling would have been cuffed and taken to jail in the beginning on the film, but as the romance between himself and McAdams develops and a real friendship becomes the basis for their romance, the story and their connection to each other grows in a genuine way. The dynamics of their relationship isn’t depicted as perfect. It’s clear they have regular relationship problems and that they both address the obstacles their affection for one another must overcome to be together, but the strength and passion behind it is powerful enough to make it believable.
The hardships their love and their desires are faced with are realistic ones. There is nothing that happens in this movie that couldn’t happen in real life (except for the ending, but we can give them that allowance) and to make that interesting and enjoyable to watch should be attributed to Nick Cassavetes brilliant direction and the excellent performances of the actors involved. Ryan Gosling is a capable actor and managed to keep Noah from crossing the line from to sweet to crazy. Rachel McAdams as Allie seemed an awful casting, but five minutes in her charm won me over. Together they had an infectious chemistry that made their attraction seem entirely natural. By the time James Marsden shows up you want to hate his character for taking the place of Noah, but he’s so handsome, so kind and understanding that it’s impossible to root against him, even if your gut is really telling you to.
What ties the story together is the narration of James Garner, telling the story to Gena Rowlands, who is suffering from dementia. The unveiling of their relationship and the point of him telling her the story isn’t exactly a surprise, but it doesn’t need to be. It never feels like it was put in to shock or awe the audience, but instead more or less to show love and life from a different perspective. *SPOILER* I don’t usually add spoilers but the importance of their relationship to the story is almost impossible to avoid without directly referencing to one of the final scenes. It would kill the entire impact the story has without it. The fact that their romance went past happily ever after, and showed the heartache of even growing old with someone you love and in a sense losing them, was the ultimate torture. The scene where Garner breaks down when Rowlands doesn’t remember him was such an honest agony that I was seriously choked up, and movies don’t often make me cry. I didn’t spill the tears, but that moment was what really solidified everything else about the movie. It was so unadulterated and tragic. Just heart wrenching in a way I hadn’t really seen in film before. *SPOILER END*
This might be a “chick flick” but really it’s a film about relationships and a personal reflection into one. A lot of men have recommended this to me over the years and EVERY single woman I know has told me this was a must see. I’m not saying it would have made it into my “Top Ten Chick Flicks” list, but it was definitely a gripping movie that had a more profound significance with me than I had anticipated. It really did capture the essence of young love, old love, and love without restraints. The genuine depiction of the trials and lengths people go through for each other, and the sacrifices made was something anyone who’s experienced true love can relate to, and those that haven’t will want to. The Notebook surely showed that even when love is right, it isn’t always easy and happily ever afters’s don’t happen like they do in the movies. Most of the time.