The Notebook Review

Soppy stories that’ll latch themselves to the brains of a generation like a sick leech, The Notebook holds within it the sensibilities that passive audiences love. Great looking leads, a noble cause for them to cling to and commendable performances from boring faces featured throughout. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams would go on to fine performances later on in their careers. For McAdams, the pitch-perfect quality of time travel rom-com About Time. For Gosling, a feature where he marries a sex doll. Pinnacles, people, pinnacles. The Notebook is not a pinnacle for either performer, but their fine chemistry is a pleasure to watch. A solvable part of the larger, passive project. Why do audiences love films like this? The Notebook is a step in the right direction to solving that.

It is not, however, a step toward quality. The Notebook is terribly dense in both its structure and payoff. Hard enough it is taking this story seriously, Nick Cassavetes tries his best to channel the powers his father, John Cassavetes had behind the camera. His notions of beauty in the setting sun figure the right tone, but Nick Cassavetes adapts it poorly. A film can look good, but that does not mean it makes for the right feel. Cassavetes’ work does not have the right feel. It may capture the iconography of the 1940s, but that is no difficulty for the swathe of props and machine-like performances on display throughout. Gosling and McAdams are convincing leads and their chemistry is fine. There is nothing to elevate them beyond that though.

Uselessly problematic The Notebook may be, the obvious tug of the heartstring is founded on both ageism and idealistic love. Pragmatically speaking, it is dense and horrid. The dialogue between this cast is weak and lacks energy. Where the punch lies within this dialogue is in the grand exhibitions and lengths a man will go to win someone over. It is rusty and demented, but these large and often boisterous, blustering scenes are considered touching and credible because it is Gosling at the core. Hard it may be to move past the undesirable qualities of just about every character, The Notebook powers on through with some solid direction at times. It has some remarkable qualities within, but most are from the Cassavetes bloodline. None of that leaves a mark on the story, which is a sad shame.

The Titanic effect is an odd one. A touching one, but an odd one nonetheless. It moulded an entire generation of movie-goers into soppy, entertained individuals. Nothing wrong with that, but what there is something wrong with is The Notebook and what it sets out to do. What strikes so poorly about The Notebook is that it is emotional filler. Cassavetes may have the name of his father and his mother in the supporting cast, but he cannot inflict the same emotional turmoil as Opening Night or A Woman Under the Influence. Times have changed since those releases, and The Notebook neither wades through the past nor sets the world on fire. It is there, present and acceptable.

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