Movie Reviews

Notebook, The (2/8/2005)

Directed by Nick Cassavetes

Starring Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, James Garner, Gena Rowlands

The tagline for The Notebook is “Behind every great love is a great love story.” The tagline doesn’t lie . . . it is a great story.

The Notebook was timely released on Video and DVD the week before Valentines Day. This film is an incredible love story . . . the kind you and your honey should watch holding hands by the fire.

A powerful love story told by a man reading from his faded notebook (Academy Award Nominee James Garner) to a woman in a nursing home (Academy Award Nominee Gena Rowlands). The Notebook follows the lives of two North Carolina teenagers from very different worlds. (Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) Though her upbringing takes place in an antebellum mansion and he grew up in the kind of house where musicians jam on the porch, that doesn’t stop Noah and Allie from spending one indelible summer together before they are separated, first by her parents and then by WWII.

After the soldiers come home, everything is different. Allie is engaged to a successful businessman and Noah lives alone with his memories in a 200-year-old house he lovingly restores. But when Allie sees an article in the local paper about Noah’s handiwork, she knows that she’s got to find him and make a decision once and for all about the path her life must take.

There are films that you walk away from and say, “that was pretty good.” And there are films that you would even say are “excellent.” But how many films capture your emotion so much that you are swept away with the characters “in love.”

Yes, you’ll need a box of Kleenex handy, but not because of any cheap tricks from the director. No dying dogs, no cancer patients, no car accidents . . . just a love story that will leave you crying tears of joy from a place you never knew existed.

The performances are excellent. James Garner and Gena Rowlands’ characters aren’t just a side bar to set up the main story (ie: Grandpa reading the Princess Bride to his grandson). Their story is just as important as the other. And Ryan Gosling (Remember the Titans, Murder By Numbers) and Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls, The Hot Chick) prove themselves in these convincing lead roles.

The cinematography is beautiful. And I’m not talking about some obscure shooting style that only a Cannes film critic would notice . . . I’m talking about striking scenery that will take your breath away.

This film isn’t for the young. Leave it to the MPAA to rate a film PG-13 that you don’t want your 13-year-old (or 16-year old, for that matter) seeing. The young couple doesn’t hesitate to put themselves in several sexual situations, finally having sex in a “proverbial PG-13 sex scene” (as much nudity as you can show without actual nudity). I wouldn’t want my kids seeing it as teenagers. The love and emotion of this story is so passionate that it almost justifies the sex. Not surprising, when the majority of the world believes that making love is part of any love relationship.

And teens are watching it. Teen Choice awards nominated the film “Choice Breakout Movie Star” for Rachel McAdams and “Choice Movie of the Summer.”

So, perhaps the tagline's correct: it's “a great love story.” But for that 13-year-old allowed in the theatre, it might be just a great “love-making” story.

Conversation Starter
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):

  1. What are some of the messages or themes you observed in this movie?
  2. How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this movie?
  3. How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this movie to actually living out those opinions?


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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