Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Notebook

Title: The Notebook (2004)
Dir: Nick Cassavetes
Rating: **** out of 5 stars

The Notebook is a story we've heard a hundred times - a boy and a girl from different sides of the tracks fall in love, then their families force them apart, then they ultimately reunite via the undying power of love. Well, maybe it's a girl thing, but I never get tired of hearing that story.

The film opens with a older gentlemen in a nursing home reading a story to a woman with Alzheimer's Disease. The story tells of two young lovers named Allie and Noah. Allie (Rachel McAdams) was a rich city girl and Noah (Ryan Gosling) was a poor country boy (sounds like a Garth Brooks song, don't it?). The pair fell in love against the wishes of Allie's traditional parents. After a blissful summer with Noah, Allie was forced to move away to college and lost contact with him for several years. She waited for his letters, but they never came.

Eventually Allie moved on and got engaged to a soldier (James Marsden - ever the "other man"). Then one day fate brought Noah back into her life and all the old feelings came rushing back. Their love was reignited and Allie was forced to decide between her fiance and her first love.

Gosling and McAdams are very believable in their roles (they are a real-life couple afterall). This movie is the ultimate tearjerker. I dare anyone not to squirt at least little tear by the end. I don't think it even affected me until after I turned the film off and sat for a while listening to music, and then it sunk in.

The Notebook utilizes every cliche and every plotpoint of a typical love story, but that does not make it bad. Love stories all embody the same elements, but the key to a successful one is to have passion in the storytelling. The director and the cast really bring that passion to the screen, which is why this film works. And while it may be depressing, this is a film your grandmother would love. In fact, my grandmother does love it. It's not brutally real or cynical, but it's not entirely fluff, either. It is just a good ol' fashioned love story, guaranteed to yank those heartstrings.