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Movie Info

RATING:

PG-13 for some sexuality (see Note at bottom of the review)

RELEASE:

June 2004

GENRE:

Drama, Romance

STARRING:

Ryan Gosling, Gena Rowlands, Rachel McAdams, Joan Allen, James Garner

DIRECTOR:

Nick Cassavetes

DISTRIBUTOR:

New Line Cinema

 

Please Note

In providing movie reviews on our site, CBN.com is not endorsing or recommending films we review. Our goal is to provide Christians with information about the latest movies, both the good and the bad, so that our readers may make an informed decision as to whether or not films are appropriate for them and their families.

MOVIE REVIEW

The Notebook

By Phil Boatwright
The Movie Reporter

CBN.com - It’s the type of drama/romance/life-lesson one expects from Hallmark Hall of Fame, but seldom finds at the local cineplex. And although it has two fresh faces in the lead roles, it also has some well-seasoned ones with nearly as much screen time. It’s a love story we might have seen back in Hollywood’s Golden Era. What’s more, it’s good. The cynical side of me wonders, however, what kind of reception it will receive from those who think, “It ain’t a movie if something doesn’t explode!”

The story concerns an elderly man (Garner) who reads from a faded notebook to the Alzheimer’s-suffering woman (Rowlands) he regularly visits at a nursing home. As he recites from the diary, we are taken back in time to a quiet town and the beginnings of true love between a young couple (Gosling and McAdams). They are a sweet pair who obviously belong together, but not unlike Romeo and Juliet, have interfering parents ready to douse our young lovers with a cold pail of water at just the right moment. Along with over-protective folks, the couple is further separated by misunderstanding and the battle cry of World War II. But as Garner continues to read to Rowlands, whose character only has brief moments of lucidity, we continue with our trek back in time to see the sweethearts passionately reunite 14 years later after their lives have taken different paths.

My favorite TV show of all time is the ‘90s English situation comedy “As Time Goes By,” starring Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer. That series concerned a couple separated by misunderstanding and time, only to find one another thirty-some years later. “The Notebook” borrows freely from this concept, perhaps not quite as satisfyingly, but with the same tenderness and regard for amore. Definitely a date flick, “The Notebook” is an involving tale of love lost and found, of new beginnings and second chances.

“It is a story of unconditional love. They love each other through everything that comes up. And it’s probably the most passionate display of young love I’ve ever seen in a movie. By that I mean the intensity of the feelings,” says author Nicholas Sparks (Time In A Bottle, A Walk To Remember), whose novel the film is based upon.

Indeed, the story deals with themes seldom seen in movies these days, that of lifelong commitment and the sanctity of the marriage covenant. “The film is the closest adaptation of one of my works. I was so pleased with the outcome, I agreed to do the DVD commentary and I’ll be doing all sorts of promotion for the film,” Sparks adds.

While the film does contain brief content that may raise the eyebrows of some Sunday school teachers, nothing is done of an exploitive manner. Nor is the film done to titillate. It is about romance and love, not bedroom gymnastics.

Although we are never privy to the religious beliefs of the couple, the film’s main characters are believers in the marriage contract – for better or worse, in sickness and in health. The narrative gently pays homage to those who seek a soul mate and cherish one true and lasting love.

While Mr. Gosling is not all that charismatic, his co-star holds our attention every time she appears in a scene. Ms. McAdams gives a standout performance that ranges from humorous to heart wrenching, as do her elder co-stars, James Garner and Gena Rowlands. New Line Cinema should be congratulated for the courage of incorporating a positive message concerning marriage and giving us a movie where nothing explodes. Good luck, New Line.

Note: The film is rated PG-13 due to three misuses of God’s name; three obscenities and several minor expletives; some drinking; and brief wartime violence. There is some sensuality as the young couple are drawn together, but any scene dealing with sex is handled with discretion, cutting away before becoming graphic. It is implied that the male lead sleeps with a woman outside marriage during the years he is separated from his true love. The main couple does eventually sleep together before marriage, their years of pent-up passion needing release, but even these scenes are devoted more to their abiding love than mere sexuality; as I say, there is some sexuality, but the point of the story is the covenant between two people who were fortunate enough to find each other -- twice.


Phil Boatwright is the editor of The Movie Reporter. For more information, visit www.moviereporter.com. Review used by permission.

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