Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
Adults and Teens
2 hr. 3 min.
Year of Release:
June 25, 2004 (wide)
“The Notebook” is an overwhelmingly romantic love story exemplifying the marriage vow to love your spouse “in sickness and health, ’til death do us part.” This extraordinarily sweet account of two people who truly love each other is virtually outdone by the power of the love they share. But seeing their experience is like hearing a song that we already know and love, and don’t mind hearing it again, especially when it is sung so well. In this performance, we hear every note and enjoy each moment.
Set in modern times with flashbacks to the 1940s, “Duke” (James Garner) reads the story of The Notebook to an ailing woman, Mrs. Hamilton (Gena Rowlands), telling her the story of two young lovers, Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams). This young love begins as a summer affair and seems to end that dreadful day Allie has to move away for school. With no communication for years, both Noah and Allie move on with their lives. But just before Allie marries another man, Lon (James Marsden), she meets with Noah one more time to discover what they both have always believed.
Unlike most love stories we may see in films today, this story takes us beyond the mere beginning of a true love and takes us all the way to how it ends. And while we may know of many marriages that end prematurely in divorce, the one celebrated here expresses just how two people can stay committed to each other their whole lives, no matter what. It is a beautiful story that clearly affirms marriage, love and lifelong commitment between a man and a woman.
This movie shows that, as with any romantic relationship, things don’t always go perfectly. Noah and Allie don’t hit it off right away; in fact, in the beginning she rejects him, but he keeps after her. Allie’s parents also do not approve of Noah because he is “from the other side of the tracks” and doesn’t have prospects to be rich or upper class. This factor also does not stop them. Their relationship is also tested once Allie moves away for school and they each find themselves in other relationships, but, again, it doesn’t end. Finally, it is tested by a heartbreaking sickness, but still, even this cannot destroy their love.
Viewers should know that there are a couple of steamy scenes between Noah and Allie when they are falling in love. The first one involves them at an old abandoned house where they take off their clothes and begin to have sex. Due to anxiety, Allie, humorously, keeps talking and they do not go through with it. Later, however, the two of them do have sex. While the scene refrains from nudity (for the most part) it is pretty uninhibited. (See what director Nick Cassavetes says about these moments in our interview with him.) In another scene, we see Noah in bed with another girl, implying that they have slept together. He is not in love with her, which he realizes, and is only with her because he thinks he will not have Allie again. There are also a few swear words throughout the movie, with at least one instance of God’s name used in vain.
The chemistry between Gosling and McAdams isn’t the only strength to this stellar production. Director Nick Cassavetes has employed extensive talent in all areas of this film, including his own mother, Gena Rowlands, as one of the lead characters. Jeremy Leven admitted to changing some of the book in order to adapt it into a screenplay, but he seems to have honestly captured the spirit of the book by Nicholas Sparks, author of other movie-adapted novels as Message In A Bottle and A Walk to Remember. Dialogue, as well as costumes, lighting, and cinematography, too, all make it a very enjoyable, pleasant experience.
With a depiction of a love so strong, so enduring and so everlasting, it is difficult not to think of it in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His love, like the one honored in this film, is one that will never die. And He loves us unconditionally, desiring us to know him personally and intimately, and not only in this life, but for eternity. Our earthly romances may never be as ideal as Noah and Allie’s, but there is a perfect love always being offered to us from God through His beloved Son.
This film can easily resonate with older couples who have been together for many, many years, and, hopefully, also inspire this current generation of young people. If you’ve ever wanted to support a movie that respectfully affirms and values true love, then be encouraged to see “The Notebook.”
Violence: None / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
Also available: INTERVIEWS with the cast and director of “The Notebook”