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The Notebook

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4

All-Reviews.com 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 Harvey Karten
3 stars out of 4

There's this old gag that goes like this (friends and family of Ronald Reagan, please excuse:)

Patient: Doctor, doctor, you've got to help! My problem is that I can't remember anything!

Doctor: When did you first notice this problem?

Patient: What problem?

As though we've not heard enough of late about Alzheimer's and the race for a cure, along comes "The Notebook," which is framed by the intermittent relationships of an eighty-one-year-old gentleman, Duke (James Garner) and a woman suffering from dementia, Allie Calhoun (Gena Rowlands) to whom he is reading a sentimental story from the titular notebook. While at the conclusion of the movie we learn who is the author of the notebook, it doesn't take long for the mostly youthful female audience who is director Nick Cassavetes's principal demo, to guess what's up. "The Notebook" is a beautifully photographed, albeit weepy, tale of a seemingly impossible love between a young man, Noah Calhoun (Ryan Goslin) who is considered "trash" by the woman he'd like to make his mother-in-law and a godsend by his privileged sweetheart, Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams). As Duke reads, we learn that Noah is a salt-of-the- earth type working in the year 1940 for a lumber company, making forty cents an hour. Allie, who is seventeen years old and about to go to Sarah Lawrence College, is a city gal spending time with her folks in their lush country home in Seabrook, South Carolina (actually filmed in Charleston).

"The Notebook" would seem to have an obvious trajectory, except that the guy who does meet the approval of Allie's folks is as least as handsome as Noah, comes from a rich family, and is so understanding of the woman who becomes his fiancé that he has no problem watching her take off for parts unknown for days to sort out the two men in her life. Too bad that bigamy is not legal in the U.S. because these two guys, Noah, and his rich rival Lon (James Marden) are both suited for her: the former because, well, he's really Ryan Gosling, who recently starred as a disturbed chap in "The United States of Leland" while the latter would allow Allie to live in the style to which she's accustomed. Some suspense is generated when the 8l-year-old Allie, to whom Cassavetes flashes forward now and then, asks how the story ends, but soap notwithstanding, your judgment of the picture may be informed by whether you, like many critics, believe that sweetness and sentimentality and, yes, soap, have no place in a contemporary romance or whether you'll like a good cry and see nothing wrong with a pic that will enrich the Kleenex people. Count me as belonging to the second group, cynic though I may be at times. Robert Fraisse does a first-class job photographing scenes in the lovely and historic Charleston, SC, a particularly lavish shot taking place on a lake where the lovers, taking a boat road, are surrounded by friendly ducks–a sight that could ostensibly stimulate the (tear) ducts of the less misanthropic members of the audience like me.

Copyright © 2004 Harvey Karten

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