The Notebook (2004)
Directed by: Nick Cassavetes
Running time: 123 minutes approx.
Howdy internet! I would like to begin by saying that due to this week being so busy for me, including lots of uni work, starting a new job and many other things, that I have failed to go to the cinema this week. I know, and I’m sorry but I have instead decided to bring you another retroactive review of a film now available on DVD. I hope you all enjoy it!
Now Showing this week is The Notebook that had its cinematic release back in 2004. Highly recommended to me by many friends, it is a film about an old man giving company to an old woman by reading her a story about two lovers and their long life story of falling in love and ensuing tragedy followed by more falling in love. So as you can see, clearly a romance film. And that’s really all I can say about the basic plot without spoiling some of the more major plot points. But yeah, that pretty much encapsulates the idea of the film. It stars Ryan Gosling, a favoured actor of mine, as Noah (the man in the story being read) and Rachael McAdams as Allie (his lover); so already I was keen to see it. I’ve very much enjoyed Gosling’s work in Fracture and Half Nelson, and his ability to play such different roles in both of those was very impressive. I guess I was keen to see McAdams as well; I mean, she was decent if completely unnecessary in Sherlock Holmes and I literally had to “IMDB” her to remember she stared in Red Eye so she clearly didn’t leave much of an impression on me there either. Anyway, so I had a romance film that was highly recommended to me and staring Ryan Gosling, I was keen.
….too bad it’s crap.
Now I know you’re all going to think: “but Tom, you’re a guy who just loves movies with explosions and horror etc. like Aliens and Inception! Of course you didn’t like it!”. But, that’s not true. I have enjoyed love stories before, and have even been tremendously moved by them. I admit that I do prefer my love stories to have some fantastical elements to them and not just be a boring old “exactly like real life” love story. I’ve experienced that sort of stuff first hand so I don’t need to watch films about it!
And before I go on, I was given a challenge by several friends of mine before I went into watching this film. That challenge was: “to watch it and not cry by the end.” Already I knew I was in for a tragic love story and I was excited, I love a good tragedy. But upon watching the film, not a tear was shed at any moment throughout it. When I told this to my friends they said: “you had your expectations up for a really sad story and that ruined it.” Well, I would like to take this opportunity to say: no, that was not the case at all. What happened was that the film was awful.
My brother once told me what he believes to be the golden rule of romance films: all the women in the audience must fall in love with the male protagonist and all the men must fall in love with the female protagonist. And I agree with him, a good love story should achieve just that. Without it, who gives a shit what happens to them? Without that, the lovers are just two people faffing about in the story who’s very existence we don’t actually care about. So, I am now going to explain point one of why The Notebook is bad:
The first moment that Noah and Allie first interact with each other goes down like this: Noah is at a carnival, and he spots Allie having fun with a group of her friends and her boyfriend. It is “love at first sight” and he decides he must have her. He promptly walks over to her and starts attempting to flirt her away from her boyfriend whilst he is standing right next to her!
Audience opinion of Noah: He’s an arrogant douche-bag who thinks he can just take what he wants.
Allie is shocked by this and tells him to take a hike. She then goes to the ferris wheel and sits in a seat with her boyfriend. Before they get too high, Noah runs over and hangs off of the bars in front of their seat on the ferris wheel. Suddenly, they are at the top of the ferris wheel and the attendant stops it and yells at him through a megaphone. Noah then asks Allie to go on a date with him, still with the boyfriend sitting right next to her!
Audience opinion of Noah: Not only is he an arrogant cock-bag, he is also a lunatic!
Allie says no, as she freakin should! Noah then lets go of the bars with one hand and asks again, threatening to kill himself if she denies him a second time.
Audience opinion of Noah: Scratch that, he’s a suicidal lunatic, arrogant cock-bag!
Allie then says yes just to stop him killing himself and they all get to the bottom of the ferris wheel safely. Allie and her boyfriend then leave very quickly. Later on, she runs into Noah in the street and he asks when they’re going on their date. After some convincing, she agrees. She agrees to go on a date with the man who threatened to kill himself if she didn’t.
Audience opinion of Allie: Where once we thought she was a rational, sensible human being in accepting the date offer only to save a human life, we’ve now realised that she is in fact thicker than two planks and has agreed to date a man who is clearly psychotic!
They go on the date, which involves lying in the middle of the road, and the rest they say is a shitty movie. After this point in the film, a scratch on the DVD caused it to pause slightly and my girlfriend and myself had time to discuss this part while we re-navigated DVD menus. I told her that I thought this was terrible and asked her if I had asked her out (and she had said no) and then asked again while holding a gun to my head saying that I would shoot if she said no again, would she actually have gone on a date with me. She said no, like any normal, actually-bearing-some-form-of-sentient-intelligence, woman would. But not Allie, she’s gonna go on a date with a psychotic nut. So remind me, if the women watching this film agree with me on the whole “using-suicidal-threats-as-an-asking-out-method-is-bad” thing, what about these two people’s relationship do you find romantic?
Now onto point two of why The Notebook is awful. The above events, which all occupy the first fifteen minutes of the film, were so alienating to me that I was able to predict the tragic plot twist that takes place at the end. I predicted it to almost pin point accuracy, I’m not kidding. That’s not me tooting my own horn, it was that freakin’ obvious once the film made you realise the main characters are stupid/insane.
So, to wrap up, this film is awful. Plain awful. It failed the basic principle of love stories, that principle being to make us (the audience) fall in love along with the characters. And my lord this film certainly wasn’t tear worthy. And yes, before you ask, I have cried in love stories before so I’m not heartless. They just all had something that The Notebook didn’t: characters that got me to care about them! I mean come on, this isn’t just rule one of love stories, it’s rule one of goddamn storytelling!!!!!!
Phew, it felt good to write this one. I love the feeling of a good angry rant. I hope you all enjoyed the review, please leave your concurrences/hate mail in the comments below. See you next time!