Netflix Update No. 7: “The Notebook”

May 4, 2009




We watched “The Notebook,” a 2004 film based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. The film stars Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling, James Garner and Gena Rowlands, and is directed by Rowlands’ son, Nick Cassavetes. The premise is that an elderly man (Garner) living in a nursing home regularly reads to a fellow resident (Rowlands) from a romantic story handwritten in a notebook. Flashbacks that make up the bulk of the movie tell the same story, a romance that began in 1940 in Seabrook, South Carolina, between teenagers Noah Calhoun (Gosling) and Allie Hamilton (McAdams). It becomes clear almost immediately that Garner and Rowlands are the older manifestations of Noah and Allie, and that the older Allie – suffering from dementia – is absorbed in the story but seldom remembers who she and Noah are or that this is the story of their own relationship.




This movie is well cast, well performed, and beautifully filmed and directed. Gosling and McAdams could not be more appealing as the quirky lumber yard worker and the vibrant young socialite. Garner and Rowlands are credible and moving as the aged couple. The only reservation I had was that I couldn’t connect Noah as played by Gosling with Noah as played by Garner. The two men are so dissimilar that it is difficult to make that leap and accept them as the same person. I thought it was particularly ill-advised at a certain point in the film to flash a montage of black-and-white photos of the young Jim Garner, who was nothing at all like Ryan Gosling. Still, the movie as a whole is absorbing and entertaining and avoids the mawkishness into which such a story could easily descend.


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