ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  nick cassavetes

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  drama

LENGTH  -  121 minutes

RELEASED  -  25 june 2004

DISTRIBUTOR  -  new line cinema

OFFICIAL SITE  -  the notebook

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $32,000,000
the notebook - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from the notebook at

buy the dvd from the notebook at

a woman is torn between two loves during the 1940's in south carolina.


poster from the notebook
buy the poster

rachel mcadams and ryan gosling are both from ontario, canada.


picture from the notebook

picture from the notebook

picture from the notebook

picture from the notebook


three out of four possible stars

Sopping wet with romance, sentimentality, and gushy scenes of love, The Notebook is most definitely a movie adapted from a Nicholas Sparks book as the more emotional members of the audience will doubtlessly find tears rolling down their cheeks more than once during the course of viewing this film. Suffice it to say that this film doesn't just encourage the audience to cry a little. It gently shoves them in the direction of using an entire box of Kleenex. Though it is a creation best left to those who would find it easy to enjoy a melodramatically crafted love story, for its genre, the film is a proper and well made example of a love story.

The young stars of the film, Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling, both take turns in types of roles in which neither has really been seen in past films. McAdams, playing the volatile yet unsure "Allie," has with her participation in this film made the jump from sassy, snotty teenager (The Hot Chick, Mean Girls) to an affable and giggly young woman. Ryan Gosling, playing opposite McAdams as "Noah," has made a career out of playing very disturbed characters (The Believer, Murder By Numbers, The United States of Leland), yet easily fills the shoes as lead romantic interest, though none of his intensity of acting strength is lost in the sentimental role.

It is perhaps both actors' fierce natures that their strength together on screen pulls together a story that might find some viewers feeling low by the closing credits. And though the addition of Gena Rowlands and James Garner (Garner is an elderly man who reads to his fellow nursing home resident, Rowlands) packs quite a powerful punch by the end of the film (tissues at the ready), the question must still be raised: was the present day story needed in order to make the past come alive? Both sides of time have their strengths, but one cannot help but feeling as though the current day scenes (the ones with Garner and Rowlands) intrude into story set in 1940's South Carolina (the love story between McAdams and Gosling).

But as the film was based on a book (of the same name), perhaps the flow of the story was more flush within Sparks' prose. Unlike the comparable film Fried Green Tomatoes, which bounces in and out of the 1930's South with elegance and ease, The Notebook has a more difficult time of it, seeming to push the audience into the present, thereby losing some of the intensity and rhythm of the old Carolina South. It's not clear whether simply a different editing approach would remedy this bumpy road, because who knows if changing the placing of the present day scenes would have made the ride any smoother.

Perhaps it was the intention of the filmmakers to pull and push the audience members in directions they didn't want to go, consequently doubling the "what's going to happen next" factor via two story lines. What will probably allow audience members to forgive the filmmakers is the impressive group of actors who each plow through their roles with an eagerness which allows every character in the film to come alive off the screen. An interesting role belongs to the steady and quiet supporting performance by James Marsden, who plays a part of the love triangle between McAdams and Gosling. The path taken by his character is an interesting one, as the audience probably won't feel that the character is an antagonist, which makes the love triangle and the path of "which one will she choose" ("she" being McAdams' character) a more winding one.

From the theatrical trailer and the movie poster, it will probably be clear to most audiences before they see this film which man Allie is supposed to be with by the closing credits. In the usual path taken by romance films, the road in Notebook is definitely not the one less taken, but something which might surprise viewers is the rather delightful comedic moments that litter the film. McAdams is a talented comedienne and is able to bring a laugh from the audience with some well uttered words just as easily as she is by something physical (like tripping or running into something). This inclusion of comedy into what is really quite an emotional story is quite welcome, as all those tears might have been too cumbersome for the less adventurous audience.

Director Nick Cassavetes (his mother is Gena Rowlands) has reined in a somewhat fractured screenplay (the jumps in time aren't as fluid as they should be) and has coaxed strong performances from all of his actors. Gosling and McAdams in particular make a very strong duo together and in later scenes, Rowlands and Garner prove their talent as well. The technical aspects of the film (including a discerning mixture of 1940's pop tunes and a suitably booming orchestral score from newcomer Aaron Zigman) are squeaky clean, with the expansive aspect ratio doing justice to the lazy summer days and picturesque lake views afforded by many scenes in the film. This film is in every way a romance and strives to be nothing more impressive, though in its humble way, should hit a strong emotional chord with anyone willing to immerse themselves in a beautiful film.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt

content 2000 - 2005 - ninth symphony films - photographs new line cinema 2004
home | archive | ratings | links | about | contact