PG-13 for some sexuality (see Note at bottom
of the review)
Ryan Gosling, Gena Rowlands, Rachel McAdams,
Joan Allen, James Garner
New Line Cinema
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By Phil Boatwright
The Movie Reporter
- Its 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. Its
a love story we might have seen back in Hollywoods Golden Era.
Whats more, its good. The cynical side of me wonders,
however, what kind of reception it will receive from those who think,
It aint a movie if something doesnt explode!
The story concerns an elderly man (Garner) who reads from a faded
notebook to the Alzheimers-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 its probably the most
passionate display of young love Ive 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 Ill be doing all sorts of promotion for the film,
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
Although we are never privy to the religious beliefs of the couple,
the films 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 Gods
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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