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The Notebook (2004)

by on 2011/11/12

“You’re dumb.”

* * *

I swore I would never, ever watch this movie. Ever.

In fact, The Notebook was my line in the sand. There were people who would watch The Notebook and like The Notebook. Then there was me.

But the theme on this month is memory. The Notebook is about memory. It was available cheaply at my friendly neighbourhood DVD store.

You see my problem.

I know that sacrifices must be made in the service of our great and terrible blog — a compendium of what approaches 500 film reviews (some of them mine).

So I watched The Notebook.

Because I had so studiously avoided learning anything about this movie, save it was a noxious Hallmark romance to be avoided, I was completely unaware the incredible James Garner (A Man Called Sledge) was in this film.

I rest what happened to me during the screening of this film is entirely at James Garner’s feet.

I now resent The Notebook for making me cry my own tears.

In fact, when James Garner says, “That’s my sweetheart in there. Wherever she is, that’s where my home is,” I was reduced almost entirely to a liquid.

I should probably mention the plot in this review. The Notebook is a romance. More specifically, it is a smoochy romance between Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling).

Ryan is poor. Allie is rich. Ryan is quiet. Allie squeals. In fact, Allie might have been diagnosed in our timeline as being mildly bipolar. She’s wildly exuberant one moment, silent and sullen the next.

The character of Allie could have been played simpering and prim but Rachel McAdams plays it quirky and eccentric. McAdams is a charming actress I’ve enjoyed in productions like Slings and Arrows and Wedding Crashers. Ryan Gosling is similarly charming in a quiet, aw-shucks way.

Together they are adorable.

Enter the conflict. Allie’s parents (who are rich) don’t like their daughter dating a minimum wage day labourer. So these two crazy kids are kept apart.

Unfortunately, all of the Care Bear cuteness and resultant trouble in Care-A-Lot didn’t affect me one little bit.

The waterworks started when James Garner, as Duke, and Gena Rowlands as the elder Allie entered the screen. In the very slow, quite obvious reveal, Garner exuded charm and charisma in this otherwise pedestrian tale.

No longer in a fog of tears, I can now make out the screen well enough to write that this film is empirical proof of how astounding Garner is. Garner took this schlocky romance and reduced one as crusty as I to a puddle of emotion. That’s genius.

Now let’s never speak of this again.

* * *

Rated PG-13 for some sexuality (Garner didn’t literally act his pants off but Gosling did)

123 minutes


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