Monday, June 23, 2014

The Notebook

The Notebook; romantic drama, USA, 2004; D: Nick Cassavetes, S: Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling, James Garner, Gena Rowlands, James Marsden, Kevin Connolly

In a nursing home, an old man is reading a love story to an old woman: a long time ago, in the American South, a young lad named Noah fell completely in love with a girl, Allison. However, her rich parents were against her relationship with a poor boy who works in a lumber factory, and moved to New York. Noah wrote 365 letters to Allison, one each day, but Allison's mother intercepted them and hid them from her daughter. After World War II, Allison met a former officer, Lon, and got engaged to him. However, she drove one day back to the south, met Noah and revived their relationship. Back in present, the old woman realizes that the story the old man was reading to her was about them when they were young.

Even though some were not inclined towards it, "The Notebook" is a refreshingly honest and uncynical, pure straightforward romance that also sends a tragic message about transience in life. There is a neat plot twist that explains why an older man is reading to an older woman the love story about a young couple (even though the twist is, unfortunately, already revealed some half way into the film), but the main storyline is what keeps the film "ticking", anyway: Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling are phenomenal as the young couple madly in love, Noah and Allison, who have spark, chemistry and charm, evident already in the crazy manner he manages to "persuade" her to go on a date with her (he hangs from the Ferris wheel and threatens to throw himself on the floor if she does not say "yes". She accepts, but not without staying even, since she pulls his pants down while he is hanging). As with most love story, this one also revolves around an obstacle the couple has to overcome - here embodied in their class difference - whereby it falls prey to some melodramatic cliches (parents forbidding their daughter to see the guy she loves; Noah writes letters to Allison, which are confiscated by her mother - but Allison herself does not write a single letter to him), but to its credit, on the other hand it also neatly avoids some other ones, thus gathering plus points (when Noah's fling, Martha, shows up at his doorstep just as Allison returned, this could have lead to a typical further complications and running away "without wanting to hear an explanation". But instead, refreshingly, Martha is full of understanding, and so is Allison who invites her to enter the house). A very emotional film, with one major flaw - as the conclusion sets in, it should have ended right there, since the last five minutes after it are unnecessary.


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