I’ll admit that romantic tearjerkers are not my cup of tea, and I go into most of them with much disdain. However, a good movie is a good movie, and I’ll never be one to dismiss a romantic movie as long as it’s well-made. I still thoroughly enjoy some romantic movies like Titanic, 500 Days of Summer, or The Princess Bride (yes, that counts). But The Notebook, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks is not a good movie.
Set in the 1940s, Allie and Noah (Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling) meet as teenagers and the story chronicles their summer fling while periodically switching back to their present-day circumstance. This movie depicts a terribly dysfunctional relationship masked as love. Noah obnoxiously lusts after Allie and asks her out despite multiple rejections, and then threatens suicide if she doesn’t agree to go out with him. I understand that The Notebook is just a movie and sometimes you have to suspend your disbelief, but if someone threatened to kill themselves if you didn’t agree to go out with them, wouldn’t you be a little concerned? I wouldn’t find that adorable. Throughout their relationship, you see them constantly fighting and then passionately making up. Passion and fighting are definitely parts of a healthy relationship, but the way they physically fight is dysfunctional. This movie seems to bank on young girls thinking that this is how relationships should be and it doesn’t matter what the guy does as long as he makes grand romantic gestures.
Another aspect where this movie totally fails is with the characters and the lack of development. For some reason, we’re expected to care about these two young people. We’re only supposed to care about them because we’re told to, not because they’re interesting people with depth. Both of the leads are obnoxious, shallow, and toxic. They have no redeeming qualities, and I’m not sure why we should invest so much emotional energy into their story.
It should be fairly obvious why a character falls in love with another character. So, in theory, it should be easy to see why Noah loves Allie so much. But this movie can’t even depict why Allie is such a spectacular young lady that two men are fiercely devoted to her. I’m still baffled as to why Allie picked Noah over Lon. Lon was kind, sensible and loving. He loves Allie and lets her do what will make her happy; he doesn’t emotionally manipulate her into staying like Noah does.
It’d be nice if Noah and Allie had more depth to them so we could really see why they love each other and what keeps pulling them together instead of the fact that… they’re both young hot people?
At the end of their lives, Allie is suffering from Alziehmers. Noah goes to visit her and over the span of the day, tries to make Allie remember their love story. Not only does this seem a little unfair to expect from a person who suffers from Alziehmers, but you can’t possibly expect that she’s going to remember the story throughout the day. There’s something that feels extremely offputting in their present-day romance. Perhaps it’s the complete cynical in me, but could he just be obsessed with her and making up this story to make her fall in love with him one last time? That actually sounds like a more interesting story to me.
Ultimately, this movie is disappointing because it plays off romantic cliches that are totally unrealistic, and gives this twisted romantic ideology for young girls. The author, Nicolas Sparks makes money off women looking for their own ‘Noah’ which does not exist.