The Notebook (2004)
Often times when a movie comes from source material such as a novel that did well, the people who were fans of the book end up not liking the movie as much. Sometimes those same fans even end up hating the movie, or not even giving it a chance by seeing it. Such was the case, that I already knew the ending of Nicholas Sparks’s novel even before I got into the theater. Let me clear up though, that the best thing about the film was that I ended up getting wrapped in the story on the screen, rather than sitting there thinking to myself what part of the story should be coming next. That is what makes a great adaptation, when you can get lost in the story, and forget about your thoughts, or what is going on in the outside world. Not only that, but the film soared past any expectations that I had for it from the start too, by being very well Directed and acted.
Best known for his acting credits, Nick Cassavetes was tapped to direct this film. His past experience, which didn’t consist of very many films includes the Denzel Washington film John Q. This was not going to be an easy task for him though, because the story was built on us believing the love that the main characters of the film would be showing was real. It?s not as easy as it sounds, and some films (like Star Wars Part 2), end up making the audience laugh, rather than feel what the characters are feeling. He did a great job, and helped put together a great cast for this film that would end up including Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, James Garner, and Joan Allen. All actors who have found their niches before, and were brought in to this film to help carry the story.
Gosling is best known for his role as „Richie”, one of the kids, in Murder By Numbers. He brings a great innocence to the role of Noah Calhoun in the film, one of the two main characters. Rachel McAdams plays the other half of the duo as Allie Hamilton. She was actually one of the leads (Regina George) in an earlier Summer movie, Mean Girls. At the heart of this film the couple represents the love story that is being told by James Garner’s character. He reads from a book , the story of the two lovers as they go through everything life has to offer. Gena Rowlands plays the lady that he is reading to, and she gets as wrapped up in the story as we do, as he progresses from chapter to chapter in the novel he is reading. Garner was perfect for this role, and shows his narrating skills as he explains how the two of them live.
Meanwhile, in the story, Noah and Allie meet in one of the cutest scenes of the movie. He sees her at a carnival, and knows right away that he wants to be with her. He does not know quite why at first, and all he can say is that something inside of him is drawing him to her. He convinces her to give him a chance, and she eventually agrees to give him the date that he seeks. What progresses from there is a Summer romance that goes through all of the emotions that we all have experienced before. What makes it even more real, is that it is not played off as if every single moment is perfect between the two of them. It depicts that they do have fights, that they do have disagreements, but that they do have a love that is stronger than any of that. This is what made the romance real for me. Everyone knows, that in real life we can’t have a relationship where everything works out perfectly, or where everyone agrees on everything.
The romance blossoms, but a problem exists that could spell trouble. Noah is from a one- parent family, and sees himself working at a lumber-yard for the better part of his life. He says that he has found his place in life, and this is what the „cards” have planned for him. Allie on the other hand, come from a very well-off family, and is being brought up in a rich societal circle. Her family is spending her 17th Summer in the small town by the sea, and first comes across Noah by pure coincidence. The romance between them is kept under wraps for quite a while, until her parents find out. The mother immediately thinks that is should end, but the father feels that it is just a summer „thing” that will come to an end rather quickly. That is, until she is out late one night with Noah, and he takes the side of his wife. They see no future between their daughter and this „boy”, and take her away from him the first chance they get.
That coupled with the outbreak of World War II keeps them apart for a couple of years, and the story really gets underway. Will their love be able to endure the separation, or will one of them move on to something that is easier in their own lives? The story becomes an epic of its own, as its starts to split time between the story being read, and the story of Garner and Rowlands living in the present day. This is what I love about films like these, as we are given the opportunity to enjoy two different stories going on at the same time. The love shown by Noah and Allie is something that envelopes us, and it makes us forget about the current story. By going back and forth, we are able to look forward to where each of the two stories is going. All of it leads to an ending of each story that is both very enjoyable, and very emotional at the same time.
As I said before, sometimes a book can fail to transition to film. This is not one of those cases, as the movie instead becomes its own entity. Both stories have great chemistry between the characters at the center of them. It is amazing just how well the actors/actresses in the parts play their roles, and just how much we as an audience start to care about their lives. As it progresses, we truly care about what will happen to the main characters, and we have in our own minds how we want things to turn out. It is that type of film, where we start to become part of the story, and want them to act or say something specific, that truly makes a great story. Even though this is a movie that is heavily geared to lovers of romance novels, this is a film that I found very enjoyable. I highly recommend seeing this film while it is in theaters, or purchasing it when it hits DVD, because it has everything that is needed for a truly great love story.