As teenagers, Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling) begin a whirlwind courtship that soon blossoms into tender intimacy. The young couple is quickly separated by Allie’s upper-class parents, who insist that Noah is not right for her. Several years pass, and when they meet again, their passion is rekindled, forcing Allie to make a choice from her soulmate and class order. This beautiful tale has a particularly special meaning to an older gentleman (James Garner) who ceaselessly reads the timeless love story to his aging companion (Gena Rowlands). The romantic Nicholas Sparks movie, The Notebook, is to be had on DVD with special features.
When you believe that old-fashioned tearjerkers are an endangered species in Hollywood, a movie like The Notebook will also be embraced without apology. Yes, it’s syrupy sweet and clogged with clichés, and one can only marvel at the irony of Nick Cassavetes directing a weeper that his late father John–whose own films were devoid of saccharine sentiment–would have sneered at. Still, this touchingly impassioned and great-having a look adaptation of the preferred Nicholas Sparks novel has much to recommend, including appealing young costars (Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) and appealing old costars (James Garner and Gena Rowlands, the director’s mother) playing the same loving couple in (respectively) early 1940s and present-day North Carolina. He used to be poor, she used to be rich, and you’ll guess the rest; decades later, he’s unabashedly devoted, and she’s drifting into the memory-loss of senile dementia. How their love endured is the story preserved in the titular notebook that he reads to her in their twilight years. The movie’s open to ridicule, but as a delicate tearjerker it works just fine. Message in a Bottle and A Walk to Remember were also based on Sparks novels, suggesting a triple-feature that hopeless romantics will cherish. –Jeff Shannon
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