Friday, December 9, 2011

The Notebook

by Pa Rock
Movie Aficionado

The Notebook, a 2004 movie that was based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks, is proof that Hollywood does not have to destroy a good story in order to adapt it to the screen.  And it also serves to remind me that there are hundreds of really good movies out there of which I am sorely unfamiliar.

This is a sweet and simple story.  An old man (James Garner) shows up at the rest home every morning to read to one of the residents, a lovely older woman (Gena Rowlands) who is suffering from dementia.  Each morning he has to be introduced the the lady, Allie, because during the night she has forgotten him.  The old man is known as Duke, and the handwritten story that he reads from an old notebook is the tale of a young man and woman falling in love.  He reads the story to her over and over, day after day.

It becomes fairly obvious early on that Duke and Allie are in fact the young couple in the notebook.  Duke doesn't just show up at the rest home each day, he is actually living there to be near his wife, the woman he has adored for decades - and the woman who has now forgotten him.

Much of the film is focused on the couple as they were just meeting and falling in love - the story in the notebook.   Ryan Gosling plays Noah (as Duke was called in his youth), and Rachel McAdams is the young Allie.  They meet, Noah charms Allie with his outlandish behavior, they fall in love, her wealthy parents intervene and pull them apart, World War II happens, Allie falls in love with someone else, and then the fates kick in.

Yes, the story is comfortable and maybe a little too predictable at times, but it is also very, very good.   It is a tale of ordinary life played out on a canvas of extraordinary love.  It will leave you in a good place.

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