Back in the day this Nick Cassavetes (My Sister’s Keeper, John Q) film sorta came out of nowhere and took most people by surprise. The romantic film genre is a tough one. Guys don’t really want to go see these types of films, so you cut your audience in half. On top of that for the most part we have seen everything meaning that it is very hard to make a film with an original slant on love and romance. This is what the film was up against plus the fact that at the time Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams were pretty much unknowns. In the end, Cassavetes, McAdams and Gosling made a film that against all odds most everyone who saw it loved.
An older gentleman (James Garner – Maverick, The Great Escape) is reading a story to an older woman (Gena Rowland – The Skeleton Key, Hope Floats) in a nursing home. Set in the American South, the story is about two star-crossed lovers and their road to love.
One night at a carnival Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling – Drive, Crazy, Stupid, Love) meets Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams – Mean Girls, Midnight in Paris). Allie is just 17-years-old and comes from a well off family from the city. Noah comes come a poor country family. Love does not care about money or social standing, however. They fall hard for each other. That entire summer they are inseparable. Allie’s mother and father are not happy about this and decide to move her away from Noah. She goes off to college even though left up to her she would have given it up for Noah.
Allie waits for Noah to send his promised letters. She never gets them. Noah has written 365 letters, but her parents intercept them. Noah, hearing nothing from Allie, decides to restore the house they went to one night. Seven years pass and Allie is now engaged to a young soldier named Lon (James Marsden – X-Men, Robot & Frank).
A picture of Noah in the local paper catches Allie’s eye. Allie reads about how Noah has restored the 200-year-old house that they met secretly at so many years ago. She is drawn back to the man she loved and visits him in the house he has lovingly restored. Planning to tell him about her engagement, Allie finds herself falling in love with Noah all over again and has to choose between him and her fiancé.
The whole chick flick category is a difficult one. It has become almost a warning for guys to stay away. That is a complete shame because a story about love that allows you to shed a tear should qualify as a good watch for both sexes. I’m here to tell men not to let the loads of sentiment in this film scare you away because it is a good watch.
It is not the story that elevates this film as the story is a rather simple one. Two young people fall in love but are kept apart by circumstances so have to fight to get back to one another. What makes this film better than your average romantic picture are the two leads. Infusing their characters with plenty of believability, vulnerability and passion, Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams kick started their careers with The Notebook. The investment they make into the film and their characters is admirable. Their on-screen chemistry is off the charts. We want Allie and Noah to be together. Our hearts break and swell right along with theirs. In other words, their excellent performances bring us along with them on a journey of love.
The wonderful performances of the two leads is helped by the supporting cast. Cassavetes’ mother – Gena Rowland, James Garner, James Marsden, Joan Allen, and Sam Shepard really flesh out the story.
-Ultra Violet Copy
-96 Page Journal
-All in the Family: Nick Cassavetes
-Nicolas Sparks: A Simple Story, Well Told
-Southern Exposure: Locating the Notebook
-Casting Rachel and Ryan
-Rachel McAdams Screen Test