“Behind every great love is a great story.”
Love is a beautiful thing. Seeing someone and feeling that connection is what makes life worth living, amongst other things. The Notebook is one highly regarded example of this theme, both by fans of the Nicholas Spark’s novel and movie-goers who enjoyed the film adaptation. Released on June 25, 2004 The Notebook was a commercial success although it received a mixed reception from critics. It was a sleeper hit and featured the not-so popular Ryan Gosling in the lead role alongside Rachel McAdams, with both actors having a believable chemistry to make the film work. So, after fifteen years, is The Notebook still a great love story worth revisiting? Is it on par with other romance films? And, what about the history of the book from which this story was based on?
It all started in 1994 when Nicholas Sparks started writing the story. It was completed in six months and would become the first novel Sparks published, despite being the third book he’d written. It was followed after The Passing and The Royal Murders. The Notebook was published in October 1996 and was on the New York Times Best Seller List for its first week. The story itself was inspired by Spark’s wife’s grandparents, who’d been married for over sixty years at that point. The book was meant to capture the love those two people had for each other.
In the film adaptation, two young people Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams) meet at a carnival and Noah is immediately taken aback by her. Her hair, her smile- he’s interested in her. After a daring attempt at forcing her hand, he gets a date with the young lady and a simple attraction turns into a summer romance that seemed destined to last forever. The movie takes places during the 1940s, a wonderful era. I love the clothing, the music, the style; in fact, time period films are among my favorite to watch as if they are done well, the audience journeys to that time frame.
There are two stark differences with these lovers, one being that they don’t often agree with each other and the other being the social status – Allie has rich parents while Noah is just a poor boy. Money matters little because the heart knows what it wants, and these two lovebirds are willing to risk everything for their love. Allie’s parents (David Thorton & Joan Allen) forbid Allie to see Noah again and decide to leave the town of Seabrook, South Carolina for their home in Charleston. Allie, devastated by this news, is unable to see Noah prior to her leaving. They had a fight beforehand and Noah heard some words that affected him deeply. But now Allie is gone and Noah too is devastated by the sudden loss.
One of the great things about The Notebook is how Director Nick Cassavettes handled the plot. It’s a story of love and wanting to be with the person you love no matter what it takes. I could go on and talk about what happens next but, if you haven’t seen the film, you really should take time to watch it. One thing I noticed over the years is the representation of romance in films. It’s either a one-night stand, a romance that turns ugly, or a lover so desperate that they will resort to stalking in order to win their partner back. This is the formula used throughout “chick flicks” or “rom coms.” I rarely see movies that portray a true romance and what it means to be in love. There have been some exceptions out there, but they’re never as popular as the chick flicks. Some examples of great love stories are Casablanca, Gone With The Wind and even Titanic.
Another great addition to the movie is the late James Gardner and Gina Rowland- the Director’s real-life mother. Their story is wonderful and plays a key role in the overall picture. Personally, I feel that The Notebook is a film that people should look up to (as well as the aforementioned films) when searching for love in their life. It shouldn’t just be about sex and satisfying your own personal needs- those are rom-coms- but instead look for someone who really captures your heart. I appreciate this film for telling a story about the will to never let someone go.
Take, for instance, when Allie is at a crossroads and has to make a decision. It’s something that no one should have to go through, but her fiancé Lon (played by James Marsden) offers a sentimental piece of advice, “Look, it’s normal not to forget your first love.” He’s actually a real gentleman when the truth comes out and a really respectable character. There are some other great moments and revelations in the movie that are better left seen than talked about.
I remember being hyped for the release of Alien vs. Predator, which released around the same time, so my mother gave me an offer: if I see The Notebook first, she’ll take me to see AVP. Turns out that I loved The Notebook and even cried at the ending and hated AVP. I still own The Notebook on DVD and find it a joy to revisit all these years later. It’s one of those movies that will age well because of its wonderful story- a story about two people falling in love. It’s a simple plot, but one that works effectively and impacts the audience no matter how many times you see it.
Of course, if you’re ever feeling alone or just coming off a break-up, you can always play the emotional theme by Aaron Zigman. The piano captures the moments, the love and the great things about The Notebook. Sure, a lot of people can make fun of the film as being unrealistic for most people, but I believe that at least two people will find each other and their love can take them away together. Love is a powerful feeling and can’t easily be faked. When you know it’s right, you’ll know that love has found you.