"The Notebook" was originally a popular novel written by Nicholas Sparks. It was adapted for the screen by Jan Sardi and Jeremy Leven and directed by Nick Cassavetes. With a budget of only $30 million, the film grossed over $80 million in the United States, becoming a major success.
The story begins with an elderly man named Duke reading a story to a woman named Allie. They are both residents at a nursing home, but Duke seems to be really competent, whereas Allie has memory loss and suffers from Alzheimer's. We eventually learn that the story he is reading to her is their own love story from their past.
The movie then shifts back in time to follow them when they were young. They both grew up in South Carolina and meet each other at a carnival one evening. Duke goes to great lengths to impress her, but is forced to pursue her over the next several days for an opportunity to take her on a date. Eventually he succeeds and the pair really strike it off well.
Before long, the two are in love with each other and can't seem to spend enough time together. However, Allie's parents do not approve of Noah, since they are quite wealthy and he is quite poor. Nonetheless, their relationship continues and they spend the entire summer enjoying each other's company.
Things take a turn for the worse when they decide to stay out late and have sex in an old abandoned mansion. Allie's parents send out the police looking for her and decide to take her out of town before the relationship gets any deeper. Noah sends her a letter every day for a year, but Allie's mother hides them, making Allie think that Noah doesn't care about her anymore.
Allie eventually meets a new young man named Lon, who is also wealthy and successful. They decide to get married and in the meantime, Noah fixes up the old mansion into a new house, using money that he earns from his carpentry business. Allie sees an article about his new mansion in the newspaper and decides to go back to visit him, but their flames reignite. She is forced to make a decision between Lon, who is rich but doesn't connect as well with her, and Noah, who seems to be her true love.
This movie has some great cinematography that really adds to the emotion and beauty of the scenes. The scene that I was most impressed with was one where Noah and Allie are in a rowboat and enter an area of the river where there are hundreds of white swans swimming around. The film crew did a good job of recreating the 1940s era as well, and all of the costumes and buildings seem to match that time period perfectly.
This movie does a good job of explaining the story without being entirely linear. It transfers between focusing on Noah and Allie's youth and old age throughout the movie, but it doesn't become confusing. In fact, it has the effect of increasing the suspense of the movie by cutting off before important plot points, leaving the viewer to wonder what will happen next.
The acting in the movie is quite emotional and feels very real. I was very impressed by Ryan Gosling's performance as young Noah, since he had mostly starred in disturbing independent films prior to this romantic mainstream film. Rachel McAdams also did a good job of playing the conflicted young rich girl, who has to decide between pleasing her parents or pleasing herself. The elderly versions of Noah and Allie performed just as well, turning in emotional performances and bringing to light the ravages of Alzheimer's.
Overall, I found this film to be enjoyable and was not disappointed. I was a little reluctant to watch this film due to its reputation as a "chick flick", but it wasn't bad and it was, in fact, really good. Even if you aren't into romantic films, this one might serve as an exception.