The Notebook (2004)

DailyView: Day 279, Movie 394

As the calendar turned to February, one of the semi-focuses for the DailyView will be some rom-coms (as well as some films for Black History Month). Rom-coms will be the main films until Valentine’s Day. So for the first of February, I watched one of the most well known rom-coms of the last 20 years, the adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel, The Notebook.

In a nursing home, Duke (James Garner) read a story to a woman (Gena Rowlands) who was suffering from dementia and had no memory. In the story, Duke read about a young girl named Allie (Rachel McAdams) from a wealthy family who met a local worker Noah (Ryan Gosling) and they fell in love. Noah was not whom Allie’s parents wanted their daughter to fall for, and their disproval led to the young lovers to split.

Noah enlisted in the army and went to war while Allie waited and hoped to see him again. After years, Allie met a new man (James Marsden) and she fell for him. He proposed to her and she accepted.

Noah had returned from the war and, with the financial help from his father (Sam Shepard), bought his dream home, rebuilding it from scratch. When Allie saw a photo of Noah and his newly constructed home in the newspaper, she felt drawn to see him in order to wrap up the past. However, their love would not be denied.

I was torn by this movie. I thought the acting was superb from the cast, especially from James Garner and Gena Rowland, whose identities were anything but secretive. I found Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams to be exceptional as well, early on in their careers.

However, there was a ton of sentimentality in The Notebook that it felt overpowering at times, and not in a good way. I also had trouble with some of the character choices made, especially from Allie. She treated James Marsden’s character just horrendously, playing him along and treating him with a lot of disrespect that he did not deserve. I felt terribly for Marsden, and this made me feel as if rooting for Allie and Noah was a bad thing.

Then, there was an amazing scene with Garner and Rowlands in the third act that was heart-wrenching, but it was tainted by what had happened before. The “mystery” of who they were really ruined the story structure of the relationship with Noah and Allie.

There are a bunch of clichés throughout the movie and it felt somewhat manipulative because of it. I don’t think there is any doubt that Garner and Rowlands and their story was way more compelling than the story of Noah and Allie, which ends up being kind of ironic.

As I said, I am torn by The Notebook. Despite its flaws, there are some solid scenes and some great acting. I just wish that I liked the leads more.

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