A heartfelt romantic drama, The Notebook has become a staple in the modern field of romantic movies. While not my personal favorite genre of films to watch, one must acknowledge the suitability of the actors to their roles, the allure of the story, and the subtlety of the filmmakers. This movie has been made into a fine film, one many females and some males will enjoy. The actors bring spirit to the characters, and the film is careful to remain realistic and not to overemphasize or overact any sequences.
Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams star as Noah and Allie, a couple of young kids in North Carolina who fall madly in love over a summer in the early 1940s. After meeting at a fairground and dating for only a brief time, Noah and Allie realize just how madly in love with each other they are. The problem is that Allie – of rich Southern blood and snobby parents – is only staying in North Carolina for the summer, while Noah works at the local sawmill. Her parents of course, don’t approve of their romance, and no that the sooner they leave town, the sooner this will all be over for them.
Occasionally skipping forward to the present day, James Garner and Gena Rowlands play Noah and Allie. He still loves her as deeply as he always did, but she is fading into the fog of Alzheimer’s, and feels she remember their love story when she hears it, but not where from. The actors contrast the surge of young love and passion with the sheer adoration of a life-long partner. The rushed love of their first summer and the calm days they spend in a nursing home together are interestingly played against each other.
Joan Allen plays Allie’s mother, and her composure as an actress never wavers in this film. She seems as harsh and bitter as can be, but then in one fateful scene she reveals herself to contain the sentiment that Allie herself has within. Her mother tells her in this private heart-to-heart that she really does love Allie’s father, but we sense a regret in her tears, perhaps suggesting that despite all of her actions to block Noah’s letters and to move their family away, she believes that Allie should be with whoever she loves most. While it sounds cheesy, the dialogue avoids clichés for the most part and the actors are believable enough that we care about the storyline, unlike most other romance films.
Filmed in a saturating and at times quite rich visual style, The Notebook is far better than most romantic dramas. While it doesn’t hold a candle to sweeping romance films like Casablanca, The Notebook is still a well-told love story. The actors all bring a refreshing realism to their roles and the story is unravelled in such a way that the urgency of young passion morphs into the undying love of a lifetime. While some will question the unending love between the two, as well as the brief partings of the clouds in Allie’s Alzheimer’s, its still something many audiences wish to see, and to believe in.