Monday, October 16, 2006

The Notebook

The movie starts with a scene at a nursing home, where James Garner's character is brought over to meet an old woman played by Gena Rowlands. He starts to read her a story, a story about two young lovers named Ally and Noah.

Ally and Noah meet at a carnival. She's rich and surrounded by would-be boyfriends, and he's dirt-poor. He breaks through her consciousness somehow and they spend a wonderful summer together. At the end of the summer, the parents break up the twosome, convinced that Noah's influence will change Ally's life for the worse. She goes off to college, and Noah writes her a letter a day for a year. When he doesn't hear from her after 365 letters, he goes off to live his own life.

He restores the 200-year-old home they spent time in together, and an article appears in the paper about it. Ally sees the paper and goes to visit him, telling her fiance' she'll be away just for awhile. The question here is, obviously, who will she choose? What life will she lead?

The Notebook is often cited as the "classic love story" by young and old, as it's developed a cult following out there among movie goers. I must, for the life of me, wonder why.

The actors are engaging enough. I saw and met 18-year-old Ryan Gosling in 1999. He had just played several episodes of the short-run Young Hercules series, and we were all wondering, I suspect, why skinny Ryan was chosen as the younger version of Kevin Sorbo, the bulked up Hercules. When we met him, we finally figured it out. The young man was engaging, bright, and a fine young actor. The producers and writers wisely decided to veer away from Hercules rescuing people with sheer power, featuring more character-driven dramas, but audiences didn't want to see that. After a year, Ryan went on to other things, and is having a successful movie career.

Rachel McAdams is simply stunning as Ally. I really don't know anything about her, but I'm sure I'll look for her in future endeavors.

However, two wonderful actors in roles they totally inhabit is not enough. The love story is terribly predictable and trite. The real "hook" here is the James Garner/Gena Rowlands story, and once you see them, you know the story. The sweetness of the hook, however, is wonderfully played out by two veteran actors. I understand that Gena Rowlands' son, Nick Cassavetes, directed the film.

I had hoped for more substance. I had hoped the movie would take me to different places, places I had never been. Thumb's down.


At 4:25 PM, Blogger catattack said...

From Shawn: You have a right to your opinion....I love love -- simple, warm and true -- this movie touched me there, now wasn't that simple? Don't have to think too deeply about it, just enjoy the deep, everlasting dedication of it, the truth of it!!! Thumb's up....over and over!


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