Movie Talk: The Notebook (2004)
I'm sorry if this disappoints you.
I’m just going get this out of the way, right off the bat: The Notebook does absolutely nothing for me.
Up until a few years ago, literally every female on the planet has seen this film, except for me. I haven’t read the book, though; maybe it’s better put together than this flick, but after finally deciding to see what all the hullabaloo is about, it makes me wish that I had seen this when I was younger and less spoiled by other romantic films that do this kind of story better, because then I would probably appreciate it more.
And before anyone asks, no, I do not want to re-watch this for the sake of a proper review. Seeing it once was enough – it’s a straightforward romance that’s been quoted and referenced so many times over the years to the point where it’s all engrained in my brain. So don’t worry – I'm pretty sure I’ll do just fine.
Do I even need to talk about the plot? Noah is recounting his romance with Allie via good old-fashioned storytelling with a book in hand, to Allie who is suffering from dementia in a hospital. He talks about how they met, fell in love, got separated from the war in the 40s, met up and fell in love again. Are we good? Good.
Now, hear me out: by no means do I think this is a terrible film. I just think that it’s so overblown, hokey, hammy and beyond unrealistic…. okay, now I’m making it sound like it’s bad but it’s really not, just…ugh. Here, I’ll put it this way: I think I would’ve felt more for the couple in their old age and circumstance had the performances by Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams steered more towards raw emotion, and had good dialogue about how their lives had changed overtime, as well as their outlook on things, and less about a…dramatically boring and one-way chase for a “quintessential” fantasy.
Maybe I’m the wrong person to discuss this film, as I’ve seen plenty of other films that portray compelling yet complex romances better, like Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Pride & Prejudice, Ghost and Silver Linings Playbook before this one, and I know that a lot of people really love this movie. But I just can’t bring myself to say that it’s enjoyable or relatable, at least for me.
That being said, I can’t say it’s bad either, because story wise, it’s an interesting idea. I just find anything involving old couples touching, and the idea of one partner forgetting that portion of their lives is legitimately heartbreaking. Surely, the book makes for a good read (really will need to look into it at some point), but I guess just the way this is filmed really makes me not care for what happens to our leads.
So then, despite everything I've just talked about, why do so many people, especially women, love this film so much? Well, I think of a few things.
At the end of the day, it's a fantasy, and like with all fantasies, people enjoy getting sucked into the wonder, the "what if" of it all - it gives them hope for better days, or even just the slightest bit of magic in their lives. We know there isn't always a happy ending to every chapter in our lives, but reminding ourselves of a creator's honest and heartfelt intentions could help retain our humanity at the very least.
With that, comes the play on emotions. Even though I personally couldn't get past the acting and setup, others were clearly able to and could connect with what these characters were going through and how they felt. There are certainly (former) lovers out there who meet again after so many years and give it a second try, so I can see why Allie and Noah's plight would resonate with them.
What I'm saying is, there are things in this film worth appreciating and that others will definitely support, even if I'm not entirely convinced due to the performances themselves. I’m sorry if I’ve upset anyone with my personal gripes, but it is what it is.