The notebook, directed by Nick Cassavetes (2004).
Score: a great unintentional comedy.
Based on the homonymous novel by Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook is the story of two star-crossed lovers in 1940s Charleston. This story is told from a notebook by an old man (James Garner) to an old woman (Gena Rowlands) who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling) is a young man working in the Seabrook sawmill who falls in love at first sight with rich heiress Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams). After pestering her until she agrees to go out with him, they fall madly in love; her family forbids the relationship and she is forced to leave for college without him. But love is love, and they will not let their relationship die without a fight.
I hated the first twenty minutes of this. It was corny and boring and perpetuated creepy stereotypes, like insisting until the girl says yes and then being condescending towards her. But then I started to realize the comedic value of this film’s poor management of dramatic situations. The mother shrieking: “Are we going to support him while you bear his children?!?!” Allie freaking out when they almost lose their virginity and Noah looking like “I came here to get laid and you’re honestly being so annoying right now”. Their lovers’s spats: “I love you! I hate you! I never want to see you agaiiiinn! Wait, I didn’t mean that!” “I’m so distressed about seeing you that I’ll just drive my car into this conveniently placed fence”. I laughed really hard watching this movie.
But then, something extraordinary happens: the film becomes half-decent for about thirty minutes. ***SPOILERS*** This middle section where they have both settled down, continued with their lives. They look back, wonder what might have been. They don’t love each other with the irrational heat they had before, but want to know each other better. It is revealed that Allie’s mother was also in love with a working-class man but decided against marrying him. All the bile she’s been spewing at her daughter is actually the product of her own remorse and her trying to justify that she made the right choice. Damn, this is a story I can actually relate to! Also, when you see Noah in front of the house he built with his bare hands, brawny, bearded, brooding like a Byronic hero, it’s hard to keep your ovaries from exploding. Ellie has to make a choice I can care about: between her Manic Pixie Dream Boy and another guy who’s not so exciting but he’s not a bad guy. Bring on the Betty and the Veronica, only Noah is both at the same time.
This movie is basically Love in the time of cholera if the girl had chosen the loser. In fact, I found the story all the more interesting when I thought old Noah hadn’t managed to marry old Allie and he was still pestering her well into the realm of senile dementia. So much for being friendzoned. In the end, it’s a cheating romance. We only get to see the external impediments to their eternal love, but we have to believe that was the greatest obstacle they had to face ever and it’s really hard to swallow. We’re just given the romance which conquers all and then reassured that they actually lived happily ever after, no need to worry about what happens after the credits roll. Like, he’s still by her side when she has Alzheimer’s and wants her to remember to the very end! You’re a bad person if you don’t acknowledge that as true love. ***END SPOILERS***
Too long, didn’t read: you can enjoy this movie as long as you don’t take it seriously.