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The Notebook

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Notebook

Starring: Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 121 Minutes
Release Date: June 2004
Genres: Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Gena Rowlands, James Garner, Joan Allen, James Marsden, Heather Wahlquist, Jamie Brown, Sam Shepard, Lindy Newton, Eve Kagan, Sylvia Jefferies

Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

Based on Nicholas Sparks' 1996 best-seller, "The Notebook" revolves around the tale an elderly man (James Garner) reads aloud to a confused woman (Gena Rowlands) with Alzheimer's disease who's confined to a nursing home. Though she's removed from reality by her fleeting, faded memory, she's obviously intrigued by the romance he relates.

Set in Seabrook, North Carolina, the love story begins in 1940, as 17 year-old Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams), a wealthy girl from Charleston, meets 19 year-old Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling), a local boy, at a Carnival. Impetuously, he implores her to go out with him and pesters her until she agrees. Sparks ignite the intense, overwhelming passion of their idyllic relationship. Horrified that her debutante daughter will wind up with a lumber mill worker, Allie's mother (Joan Allen) whisks her away to college. Allie's and Noah's lives take different directions during World War II., but memories linger and, seven years later, their paths cross again. Allie is engaged to marry a Southern gentleman (James Marsden) and must make a tough decision.

Director Nick Cassavetes (son of actor/director John Cassavetes and actress Gena Rowlands) and screenwriter Jeremy Leven ("Don Juan De Marco") explore haunting, enduring memories, particularly those of one's first love. Permeating that theme with the lush texture of the historic, plantation-era South, they create an old-fashioned "weeper" that should skew to a nostalgic, older audience. The casting is superb with only David Thornton, as Allie's father, striking an odd, discordant note. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Notebook" is a sweetly sappy, sentimental 7, a charming summer romance that lasts a lifetime.

Copyright 2004 Susan Granger

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