The Notebook (2004) starring Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, James Garner, Gena Rowlands, Sam Shepard, Joan Allen, James Marsden directed by Nick Cassavetes written by Nicholas Spark Movie Review

The Notebook (2004)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in The Notebook

Noah's Romance to Remember

As with many modern movies I had heard far too much hype about "The Notebook" before watching it. I'd heard reports of it being a great romance, a modern love story and as is normal when a movie gets so much hype I was sceptical. But then "The Notebook" is an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel and so far other adaptations of his literary works such as "Message in a Bottle" and "Nights in Rodanthe" have impressed me. So I watched it and for the most "The Notebook" typically plays like any other romantic drama, but then Sparks flips the story with a twist which takes it to another level. Is "The Notebook" a great love story, nope but it's much better than the majority of other modern romances making it a pleasure to watch.

As teenagers Noah (Ryan Gosling - Murder by Numbers) and Allie (Rachel McAdams - Mean Girls) begin the most unlikely of relationships which soon blossoms into more than just a casual affair. But Allie's upper class parents disapprove of her relationship with working class Noah and force them to separate. Several years later when they meet again, the once intimate love is instantly rekindled forcing Allie to decide between following her heart or social expectations. This tale of young love has a special meaning to an old gentleman (James Garner - Space Cowboys) who regularly reads the story to his aging companion (Gena Rowlands - Hope Floats).

James Garner and Gena Rowlands in The Notebook

"The Notebook" is a typical adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel, it tells a beautiful yet slightly predictable tale about a romance between Noah and Allie who in time honoured traditional are from different social climbs. It lures you into a false sense of security before throwing a twist at you that changes the story in a blink of an eye as well as how you feel about it. I will admit that until the twist appeared I was feeling slightly disappointed as although the romance between Noah and Allie was in deed charming it was expectedly predictable. But in a strange way the predictable build up worked as it allowed it to focus on building a deeply romantic relationship and it certainly achieved it.

Yes, every trick in the book is pulled to get the desired sentimental response from the audience but it's done in such a subtle way that it doesn't feel overly artificial or that you are having your strings pulled. Director Nick Cassavetes, who happens to be the son of Gena Rowlands, literally uses every device going to make "The Notebook" a tear jerker but some how and don't ask me how he has made it work from the beautiful location shots, the obvious narration through to the performances from Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as Noah and Allie it's just right. I can see why many have fallen in love with "The Notebook" as I am sure I would have to a greater scale if I had not watched so many classic love stories already.

Where "The Notebook" really does excel is in the performances, James Garner is magnificent as the caring elderly gentleman who reads to his companion as is Gena Rowlands as that companion. But the real stars are Ryan Gosling as Noah and Rachel McAdams as Allie who are completely convincing as not only loved up teenagers but also as long lost lovers later on in the movie. With Gosling reminding me of a young Edward Norton he puts in probably one of his best performances as the hard working Noah and utterly convincing too. Opposite Rachel McAdams is equally convincing as the daughter of a well to do family who finds herself falling in love with someone from the wrong end of the social scale. What is particularly good about their performances are not only are they watch able together but equally as watch able and entertaining when they drift apart. Some of the best scenes in the movie come from when Noah is still yearning over her after she leaves.

What this all boils down to is that "The Notebook" is certainly better than most modern romantic movies and I can see why so many people have fallen in love with the immensely touching and sentimental story. But it doesn't quite have the magic to make it a classic in my book. What it certainly is, is yet another great example of a Nicholas Sparks novel adapted with great success into a movie.

Tags: Nicholas Sparks