An elderly woman (Gena Rowlands) stands, looking out of the nursing home window. An elderly man (James Garner) visits her. She doesn’t know him, but he clearly considers her an old friend. He reads to her a story from a small notebook, a story about young Noah (Ryan Gosling) and his one true love Allie (Rachel McAdams). They fell madly in love one summer. But she comes from a rich family, and her mother doesn’t want her marrying below her class. Allie gets not even one of Noah’s letters. She falls in love with and gets engaged to a handsome busnessman, with her parents’ full support.
Meanwhile, with a big hole in his heart, Noah buys and rebuilds a 200-year-old house, his dream house. It had been his dream even before it was his and Allie’s dream. And now this dream is all he has of her.
Recounting this plot makes me feel a little like crying. Of course, Noah and Allie encounter each other again. And when they do, it is a tense moment indeed. Their longings and struggles are the best and worst of first love.
The man and woman in the nursing home are also not just there as an excuse to tell the story of Noah and Allie. They have their own story as well. Who are they? Why doesn’t she know him? Why does he sit and read to her? This is just for starters. That story made me cry, too, by the way. The Notebook is a story within a story, a two-barreled romance.
The film is rated PG-13 for sex. It’s also a little on the long side, a little over 2 hours. And at times, the story dragged. All outstanding conflicts seemed to be resolved. I felt like the story should be over. I wondered why I was still watching, why I cared about what was happening on the screen.
All said, I enjoyed The Notebook and fully recommend it as a heart-stabbing, romantic tear-jerker.
directed by Nick Cassavetes
Rated PG-13 for some sexuality
US movie release: June 25, 2004
US DVD release: February 8, 2005
Run time: 124 minutes
Note also the novel by Nicholas Sparks.
P.S. Here’s the Notebook trailer: