The Notebook (coming soon to a theater near you!) is based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same title. What’s beautiful about the movie is that it takes on marital fidelity over the long haul… over the decades, in sickness and in health. Dramas about old people are rare, though we have had some: On Golden Pond, Driving Miss Daisy, Trip to Bountiful, Marvin’s Room. But here is another one to remind the younger generation that marriage, love and fidelity can endure – and that as we care for our parents so the younger generation will one day care for us.
The movie opens with a lone rower gliding across the river at sunset and an old woman gazing out the window. The man is Duke and the woman is Allie. They live in a residential care facility. Allie has dementia with flashes of reality and Duke has heart trouble. He reads to Allie during the day, from his notebook.
The story he reads is about Noah, a country boy in rural South Carolina who works at the lumber yard. Allie, a 17 year old rich girl from Charleston, comes down for the summer of 1940 and they fall in love. But her parents intervene and Allie has to go north to college. Then comes the war. Noah writes to her every day for a year, but when she does not respond, he gives up. Kind of.
The movie flows gently back and forth between then and now. Ryan Gosling as Noah reminded me a little of a young Jimmy Stewart type and Rachel McAdams as the young Allie was really good. James Garner as Duke, and Gena Rowlands as the older Allie are cast very well and their time together is very moving.
The film is directed by Nick Cassavetes of John Q. and She’s So Lovely.
You need to be willing to take your time with this film because it is very… gradual. It has its humorous moments as well. The biggest problem is with the ending – it has two. It should have stopped at the first one.
There is some discreet sexuality in the film and this can provide talking points with young people regarding sex before marriage and affairs, especially within our faith tradition.
The film challenges us to remain faithful to our commitments and to love without limit.
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