"The Notebook" is definitely a movie for the women movie-goers, which is why I was skeptical about even remotely liking this. This has all the elements of a romance for women with the bad boy good girl romance, the steamy love affair, love overcoming obstacles and transcending time, yadda, yadda, so it's not shocker when a woman will end up adoring this movie. Now for the guys, this will be a bit of a tough sell. I liked this movie a lot because of the emotion behind it, but I'm an old-fashioned romantic kind of guy, so this film surely struck a chord with me, and definitely had me reaching the hankies... or at least wiping my nose with my hand.
Either way, this is as great a film as they say, it's powerful with genuine emotions that will not only reach women, and I hate to admit it, but it was a damn good two hours that just breezed by for me. This is your classic rich socialite meets working class young man and falls in love despite the complaints of her parents whom are worried she'll ruin her life (Joan Allen has a miniscule, but very effective part as Allie's oppressive mom), thus the romance definitely transcends time as the two find themselves on different paths in life only to--well you know. It's a great film despite my sarcasm, and the top notch acting only helped to soften the blow of a two hour tearjerker romance.
The cast is utterly grade A from James Garner who plays an aging patient at an old folks home, who everyday goes out with his friend played by Gena Rowlands to read her the story of unrequited love between Allie and Noah who met on a Ferris wheel one summer night and never stopped loving one another. Garner gives one of his best performances and outshines the young cast along with Rowlands who is just sublime. The two together are serene and very sad as he reads to her everyday about the tale of the two star crossed lovers. We constantly go back and forth between two plots that are both separate entities, but basically one in the same as Garner tries to gain Rowlands' character back in to the story every other day, while we see the love story of Allie and Noah.
While the script constantly throws in our face "They're in love! They're in love!", the two stars actually make us believe it. There's steam emanating from them from the first time they meet in the carnival, and though we are subjected to musical montages a couple of times, the true moments where we feel they're desperately in love is when they're together and acting off one another. Both stars of the film are appealing to both sexes of the audience, and make for some of the steamiest chemistry I've seen since Bogart and Bergman. Rachel McAdams is utterly charming and gorgeous while Gosling simply drips talent with his restrained but very powerful performance. He's a very dignified character who feels he's not good enough for the class Allie belongs to, but good enough for her.
While the two's relationship is blooming they experience an emotional rift that keeps them apart thus we explore the two as individuals which make for some rather deep exploration. Noah is still in love with Allie despite the things he sees during his tour of war as a soldier and in his attempts to sell his dream house that he can't quite let go. Meanwhile Allie is approached with a very fulfilling but very empty relationship with someone who is basically her equal in class (James Marsden) but the romance ends up transcending the years apart in the second half that make this a teen romance to a real adult drama.
Nick Cassevetes' talents are on full display here with a very moving adaptation that is very sweet and often times beautiful while genuinely emotional and presents some truly engrossing very sad and touching moments between the two. The surprise plot twist involving the characters halfway through, though obvious, is very heartbreaking, and, take my advice, get your tissues ready for the utterly heartbreaking and very emotional climax that will surely jerk some tears as it did for me. In the end, the film truly captures the emotions of heartbreak and undying love while really putting its stars raw talents on display.
It's not like I haven't seen this film before, it's the same damn love story I've seen over and over. You have your small town poor boy from the wrong side of the tracks, you have the rich socialite who puts aside her class difference to be with the man of her dreams and inevitably her parents whom are your run of the mill elitists whom want to stand in the way of their love and prevent them from marrying, and there's your batch of clichés and predictability that you just can't ignore no matter how good the story comes along. For all the talent this offers, it never really gives us anything really original or innovative in terms of a love story, and only really succeeds in the dependable sappy storytelling we've seen millions of times before in the "Love Story"/"Romeo & Juliet" archetype that just never breaks out of conventions and clichés.
Despite being incredibly cliché and derivative, this is essentially a very engrossing and entertaining sudsy romance with top notch performances especially by Garner and Rowlands whom steal the show.