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192 of 207 people found the following review helpful.
One of the Best Love Stories of All Time
By Antoinette Klein
THE NOTEBOOK has long been my favorite of Nicholas Sparks’ many books, so it is a happy surprise to me that the wonderful story transferred to the big screen with all the sweetness, warmth, and tenderness that made the book a runaway best seller.The best part of this movie was the incredible chemistry between Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling as the young lovers Allie and Noah. Their story was told by an elderly couple in a nursing home. James Garner and Gena Rowlands were outstanding as the devoted “Duke” and the woman with irreversible dementia. As Duke recounted the story of Allie and Noah from the notebook he carried with him, the lady’s memory began to come back and she could remember.The movie always changes the book but the one major change (the ending) which had the audience letting out a collective gasp and reaching for the nearest tissue was, in my opinion, really good even if it was pure Hollywood melodrama.Why does a movie like THE NOTEBOOK appeal to so many? Is it that every woman longs for a man who loves as deeply as Noah? Is it that every one wants a love that transcends all problems—those of class, education, family objection—-and lasts forever? Or just maybe in a world of high-tech gizmos and high security alerts, it’s nice to get back to basics with a really good love story….and this is definitely that.
271 of 310 people found the following review helpful.
During the throes of Winter, remembering Spring
By Joseph Haschka
THE NOTEBOOK is an old-fashioned love story with the topical subject of Alzheimer’s Disease thrown in to heighten the Hankie Factor.The film opens in the present at a genteel, riverside, Southern facility for the long-term care of the aged. An old man, “Duke” (James Garner), is in the habit of reading from a book to an elegant, but chronically confused and distant, lady (Gena Rowlands) of equal antiquity. The story concerns two teenagers during a hot, carefree, South Carolina summer preceding World War II. They are (in extended flashback) Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams).Noah, working in the local sawmill, is the uneducated son of a dirt-poor father (Sam Shephard). Allie, in these months before she’s off to a prestigious New York college, is the only daughter of snobbishly wealthy parents, John (David Thornton) and Anne (Joan Allen) Hamilton.The book’s plot is that hoary one about two young lovers of disparate backgrounds and financial resources, who are subsequently separated by circumstances, objection and obstruction by the wealthy parents, and the subsequent engagement of one to another – in this case, Allie to a devilishly handsome and perfectly decent, rich, young, Army officer wounded during WWII, whom she meets while serving as a volunteer nurse in a Stateside military hospital. Will Noah and Allie ever get back together? That’s what Duke’s lone listener wants to know.At midpoint point in this review, and midway through the film, it should be apparent that Duke and his lady friend are Noah and Allie in the winter of their lives. The latter is now suffering from Alzheimer’s and only occasionally recognizes her husband, who reads her the story of their courtship over and over in the hope of stimulating her memory.THE NOTEBOOK is an engaging love story that even Guys might enjoy. I did. James Garner is one of the most beloved screen veterans, and Ryan Gosling as Noah’s younger self is totally likable. McAdams as Allie is effervescent and positively radiant. As a period piece, i.e. that part taking place before and immediately after the war, it’s sumptuously photographed with contemporary costumes, hairstyles, music, and lots of vintage automobiles. And the sequence shot in the sunken forest amidst the migrating waterfowl was breathtaking in its beauty.The film does stumble occasionally. While Joan Allen is superb as the witch mother you love to hate, at least until she reveals a secret of her own late in the movie, the John Hamilton character is a virtual non-entity. And I didn’t believe his moustache for a second. (It reminded me of the beards in the Civil War epic GETTYSBURG.) Then, in a very brief sequence showing Noah off at war with Patton’s Third Army, he barely bats an eye when his best friend is killed. What was that all about? Finally, the Hollywood ending, written by a screenwriter who must have wet him/herself out of giddiness in the melodrama of the moment, was absurd. Under the circumstances, such a passing is a good trick if one can pull it off, but it’s sadly not the case, I fear, for most people in Real Life. Just ask Nancy Reagan.I doubt that THE NOTEBOOK will receive any Oscar nominations, except for perhaps adapted screenplay (from the novel). But the admission price is still money well spent if you’re weary of special FX-laden silliness and you want to see a couple of aging pros, Garner and Rowlands, before they, too, leave us. And girls, take an entire box of Kleenex.
127 of 147 people found the following review helpful.
(4 1/2 ) A Well Acted, Old Fashioned, Romantic Tearjerker
By Tucker Andersen
This screen adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ bestseller is a deeply emotional story of young love, the process of maturity, the crucial choices in our lives, and the frailty of old age. I have not read the book, and thus cannot comment upon the fealty of this film to Sparks’ manuscript, but its emotional tone and import is certainly consistent with his other works with which I am familiar. In the opening scene we meet Duke (James Garner), who resides in a nursing home and apparently spends most of his time befriending another resident there, Allie Calhoun (Gena Rowlands), who is captivated by a 1940′s story of young love which he reads in installments to her from THE NOTEBOOK which is his constant companion. Allie is suffering from some variety of dementia and these interludes provide some small comfort to an otherwise apparently colorless and bland existence.The moviegoer is then transported to the 1940′s, and the relatively brief appearances of the elderly Duke’s and Allie alternate within the film with the enactment of the story contained in THE NOTEBOOK. That story is centered in Seabrook, N.C., where a local young man named Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling) is captivated by a beautiful summer visitor from Charleston named Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams). (Of course, the viewer immediately wonders if indeed this notebook contains the story of the elderly Allie’s life, and if so what part Duke will play.) As you no doubt have guessed, since this is an old fashioned romance they eventually fall in love. The relationship is eventually ended by Allie’s mother Anne (wonderfully played by Joan Allen), who, in order to separate her society daughter from the local boy whose career aspirations are success in the local lumberyard, forces an early family return to Charleston to prepare for Allie’s freshman year at college. (Do not judge Anne Hamilton too early in this film, however!)The war years intervene, and Noah, with the help of his poetry loving small town father Frank (Sam Shepard) who has taught him to appreciate the beauty of Walt Whitman’s work, withdraws into himself and concentrates on the restoration of the tumbledown waterfront mansion that he had once hoped to share with Allie. Meanwhile, she meets and gradually becomes attracted to a wounded veteran, Lon ( James Marsden); since he is both handsome and rich their eventual marriage seems preordained. However, fate intervenes with a wonderfully deft touch and suddenly the lives of Allie and Noah intersect again. We then watch as Allie is forced to decide whether someone can recapture their past or if only the memories remain after the fork in the road has been taken? Her dilemma is clear, Lon is the apparent right choice, yet – her wonderful interlude with Noah never had a proper conclusion.This is a movie to attend when you want to bathe in your sentimentality, yet there are enough bittersweet moments to keep the viewer from being overwhelmed by the sickly sweetness that often is the result of such cinematic ventures. The acting is excellent, the story is told with restraint, and the cinematography is wonderful. My favorite visual scene was when Noah takes Allie out in a boat on the lake to his secret spot with all the swans; I found it breathtakingly beautiful. Interestingly enough, despite the film’s two hour length most of the audience stayed in their seats talking or contemplating the conclusion when it ended and the credits rolled. Why not five stars? Two reasons, first, I am not sure that the movie quite achieves my usual criteria for that rating, wanting to own the DVD and view it multiple times. Second, I found the conclusion a little too contrived in an attempt to bring closure to both the characters and the audience. One final note, read the inscription on the flyleaf of THE NOTEBOOK carefully at the conclusion, it completely explains the origin and its power to entrance Allie.(…)
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