The Notebook

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner22/06/2004


Three out of Five stars
Running time: 125 mins

Despite the occasional flaw, The Notebook is a well acted, beautifully photographed 1940s romance – the ideal chick-flick antidote to the ‘Summer of Sport’.

The Notebook, based on the best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks, may not be “the greatest screen romance since Titanic” that the posters and TV ads would have you believe but it pushes most of the right buttons thanks to strong direction from Nick ‘Son of John’ Cassavetes and features good performances from its attractive cast.

Romance Rudely Interrupted By Global Conflict

Ryan Gosling (Murder By Numbers) stars as Noah Calhoun, a young man ‘from the wrong side of the tracks’ in Seabrook, North Carolina in the 1940s. When he meets Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams) he’s instantly smitten and the two have an intense summer romance.

However, when her wealthy parents (Joan Allen and David Thornton and his Amazing Comedy Moustache) find out, Allie is sent away to school and forbidden to contact Noah. Several years and one world war later, Allie is engaged to be married to someone else when she reads about Noah in the paper and travels back to Seabrook to see him one last time…

Meanwhile, in the present day, an old man with the eponymous notebook (James Garner) reads the story of Allie and Noah to an old woman (Gena Rowlands – the director’s mother) with senile dementia, in the hopes of jogging her memory. Whoever could these people be?

In fact, that’s one of the main problems of the movie, because you’re never in any doubt who these people are and yet the film tries to keep you in suspense as to their identity. In doing so, it pretty much gives the game away about two thirds of the way through. (It also has the unfortunate side-effect of coming across like a geriatric version of 50 First Dates).

Attractive Screen Couple

Gosling and McAdams make an attractive couple and there’s definite chemistry between them, although that might be just because McAdams screams and throws herself at him a lot. (It’s best not to see this immediately after Mean Girls, either, because it’s hard to shake the image of McAdams as the ‘Plastic Princess’ from that film).

There are several strong romantic scenes, all of which are clichéd but still do their job. Chief among these are the ‘Why didn’t you write to me?’ scene in the pouring rain; the initial meeting scene on the ferris wheel (don’t try this at home, kids); the beautifully shot scene with all the ducks (impressive duck-wrangling going on behind the scenes there); and the scene where Allie discovers a surprise waiting for her in Noah’s house.

The supporting cast are good, too, particularly Joan Allen as Allie’s ultra-strict mother (“That boy is trash, trash, trash”, etc) and James Marsden does well in the thankless role of Allie’s fiancé.

In short, The Notebook is a decent enough romance in which the performances and direction are good enough to allow you to overlook the flaws in the screenplay. It’s also being released at the perfect time to cash in on the ‘Football Widow’ crowd so it’ll probably be a big hit with its (sitting) target audience. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 18/02/2020 05:26

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