2020 Blind Spot Series: The Notebook (2004)

Despite my not being into romantic films, I considered it a lack of mine to have not seen the one film many believe to be the greatest romance ever, Nick Cavassetes's The Notebook. Unlike my previous Blind Spot picks though, I did know a little going in because, when the idea of becoming a film blogger wasn't even at the back of my mind, I gave the film a chance only to quit after 10 minutes. It didn't go much better this time around as, while I managed to finish it, I found The Notebook to be just an overrated romantic flick.

The film opens in a nursing home, where one of its residents, Duke (James Garner), reads, on a daily basis, a romantic story to another resident, Mrs. Hamilton (Gena Rowlands), an old woman with Alzheimer's. It's always the same story, sometimes she remembers she has heard it before, sometimes she doesn't, but she's always captivated.

The story brings us back to late 1930s South Carolina and follows two young lovers, Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling), who meet one evening at a carnival and fall in love soon after. The problem? Noah is a 40-cent/hour lumber worker while Allie comes from a wealthy and privileged family, and, upon meeting Noah, her disapproving parents do everything they can to end the relationship. They succeed as her mother (Joan Allen) takes Allie to New York with her.

After waiting for Noah to write for several years, Allie meets and becomes engaged to a young soldier, Lon (James Marsden). It's only when she's trying on her wedding dress that she sees an article praising Noah for fully restoring a 200-year-old house, the house he wanted to buy and restore for them, that she realises she still has feelings for him. She stops by the home to see how Noah is doing, and it's soon evident that he too still has feelings for her, and Allie has to choose between her fiancé and her first love.

The main issue I had with The Notebook is the story. There's really nothing new here — the socio-economic differences between the two lovers, the disapproving parents, the second love — and you can predict almost every single second of it. The love story between Allie and Noah isn't that compelling either and I just didn't care for it. It's a different story when it comes to their older selves though. It is quite sweet to see him lovingly reading to her and it's far more believable. Unfortunately, most of the film is set in the past which made this quite a boring view for me.

The characters have the same issue of the story. The young lovebirds aren't particularly convincing; also, they are quite unlikeable, especially Allie, and quite forgettable as they don't have anything that makes them stand out from all the other lovers in other films. It's not all on the script though as despite their good performances and some impressive and quite intense fight scenes, Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams lack chemistry and make the romance difficult to buy.

The performances from James Garner and Gena Rowlands, however, are great, especially from the first. They share such wonderful chemistry, and they deliver the most tender, heartfelt, and emotional moments of the film.

The set design and scenery are also quite impressive, but unfortunately, these few things alone can't save The Notebook from the clichéd melodrama it is.


  1. Yeah! I couldn’t have said it better. Actually Ryan and Rachel became an item off set due to this film and stayed together for a while a5 least. I found the whole romance very irritating and stupid. They could have been together much sooner if they just communicated. I wish the story center3 more on them when they were older with James Garner and Gena Rowlands who had chemistry and you felt genuine warmth for them. They had a connection and. True love where the younger selves just needed to be slapped.

    1. I didn’t know Ryan and Rachel were together after this. It shouldn’t surprise me though as it happens often that two actors playing love interests fall in love in real life.

  2. This is one of those movies that is just way too sappy for my taste. While I like the cast (who have done better work), it's just one of those films that just makes me want to puke. Then again, Nicholas Sparks just isn't for me.

    1. He’s not for me either. I bought one of his books when I was 13/14 and never finished it lol and I loved stuff like this back then.