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Movie ReviewsSparks Are In The AirSparks Are In The Air: The Notebook (2004)

These other rom-coms should take note.

Synopsis: A poor yet passionate young man falls in love with a rich young woman, giving her a sense of freedom, but they are soon separated because of their social differences. (IMDB)

Starring: Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling and James Garner

Writer: Jeremy Leven

Director: Nick Cassavetes

Rating: PG (United States)

Running Time:  124mins

Trailer: 

The Notebook follows the story of Noah Calhoun (James Garner) as he visits a female patron (Gena Rowlands) at a local nursing home. Every day, he reads her the story of a young couple (Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) whose romance was ended by their separation during World War II. Years after, they bump into each other and find themselves unable to resist their second chance at true love. Despite anything put in between them be it family, friends or health, these two lovebirds will always find each other.

This is Nicholas Sparks’ best selling novel so it’s no surprise that it had the material needed for a feature film. The story is obviously chock-full of the cliches and sappy moments expected of the genre; but it manages to stay away from the melodramatic hole it could have fallen into. The dual storylines of Allie and Noah create a great pace for the film with neither overpowering the other. The romantic themes pair nicely with the poignant look at Alzheimer’s and its effects on people and their loved ones.

The story is complemented by Cassavetes’ direction and cinematography. The Notebook surrounds its good-looking cast with an equally beautiful backdrop. This period piece is elegantly shot with outstanding costumes and production design pulling you into the love-filled atmosphere. There is slight issue with the film’s run-time as the story does feel a bit long through the second act. Thankfully, the storylines and atmosphere have enough depth to them to bring this love story home.

And of course this all comes together thanks to the cast in this film. McAdams and Gosling have undeniable chemistry delivering a very authentic relationship between two soulmates whose lives haven’t lined up. Even separately, their characters have the depth required to carry the weight of this story. This is unlike many other romance dramas where characters become hollow archetypes when not around their partner. Beyond the two leads, James Garner elevates the secondary story beautifully. His heartache in dealing with Allie’s Alzheimer’s is an emotionally gripping addition.

Overall, The Notebook is a touching and heartfelt romantic drama that delivers its fair share of tear-jerking moments. While the film is long and filled with campy dialogue and genre cliches, the emotional and cohesive story, investable characters and charming ensemble help to bring the atmosphere needed for this heartbreaking relationship. It is the benchmark for contemporary romances.

Score: 8/10

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