NEW LINE CINEMAS (2004)
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, James Garner, Gena Rowlands, Joan Allen, James Marsden, Sam Shepard
An old fashioned tearjerker, The Notebook is a classy, stylish affair flitting between modern day and the 1940s, all set against the backdrop of South Carolina. A tale of unshakeable love and affection in the face of anything, it’s a touching movie that is as much entertaining as it is poignant.
The imagery and visuals are beautiful, from the opening shots of the rower in silhouette against the burning sky to the very final, moving shot, Cassavetes has created a stunning looking movie. The boat rowing through the river of ducks, the embrace scene in the pouring rain, the renovated mansion, the grainy feel of the carnival – just a few examples of where the cinematography is wonderful to look at.
Great looking shots are all well and good, but if they don’t enhance the movie then they are ultimately for nothing, with this movie they absolutely enhance it – with the messages the film gives out, the beautiful scenery complements it perfectly, all set to a stirring score by Aaron Zigman.
The chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams is fantastic (they went on to become a couple for a while after the movie) and genuinely believable. The movie’s finest scenes are their scenes of unshackled, young love due prominently to the natural feeling they manage to evoke together, and the scenes of anger between them feel as strained as you’d expect from a spontaneous relationship – they are a perfectly casted combination. Their older counterparts, James Garner and Gena Rowlands lend an effortless air of gravitas and old school charm and schmaltz to proceedings and really sell the movies emotional punches. Honourable mentions to Joan Allen, the poisonous mother with a conscience, and James Marsden, the chiselled love interest of Allie.
What fell short for me was minor but enough to remember – the reveal at the end was telegraphed from fairly early on in the movie and never really let up. The sweet nature of the movie opens itself to a few coincidences/plot issues – for example, Noah spotting Allie on a crowded street after seven years apart, the newspaper article being highlighted just at the right time. These aren’t the world’s worst crimes, but are obvious, however they do help the films momentum to continue. The World War II scenes did feel strange though, very quickly brushed over and the effects of fighting in the horrific Battle of the Bulge, or the events that happened during, had seemingly no effect on Noah and weren’t referenced again, nor were his service achievements – they just felt shoehorned in to replace and quickly introduce characters.
The Notebook is a well presented, beautifully shot movie full of great performances and touching moments. A story of unbreakable love through the ages, it has its flaws but through the sugary messages, a strong, poignant movie breaks through.
November 2nd 2016