Take a young actor whose only notoriety is from playing modern day guys with massively demented anger management issues, add a young actress who has really only shown her chops as a Mean Girl and a Hot Chick, bring them together in 1940's South Carolina, and don’t forget to throw in two old fogies reflecting back at their youth. That, basically, is what The Notebook looks like on paper. Though a cookie cutter “love story” this may be, it still leaves some room for a few surprises to keep the super familiar subject matter just the slightest bit fresh.
Allie (Rachel McAdams) is the rich girl on vacation. Noah (Ryan Gosling) is the hard working, dirt-poor local boy. All it takes is a meeting between the two to blossom some summer lovin’. Shockingly, Allie’s parents do not approve and try to split the two up, seemingly forever. Obviously, we’ve seen this thousands of times before. What makes it work this time are good performances from the leads, and the fact that Notebook’s premise doesn’t take up the entire two hours. In fact, it takes up only the first half hour to forty-five minutes. After Allie’s parents split them up the relationship is over. For seven years the two never cross paths until Noah coincidentally sees her in the street. But before he can open his mouth, he sees she’s living a fine life without him, complete with a smarmy businessman fiancé (James Marsden).
In between the scenes of Noah and Allie are scenes of James Garner reading their story in a nursing home to an elderly woman (Gena Rowlands) slowly losing her memory. Guess what he’s reading the story from...you guessed it, a notebook. These snippets of scenes between Garner and Rowlands are nice and sweet, but the investment in Gosling and McAdams is what makes them pay off in the end. That’s all I’ll say. Marsden does the same thing he’s done in the past two X-Men movies, he’s thrown to the side but does great in the scenes he has. Joan Allen plays Allie’s rich bitchy mother a thorn...
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