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Notebook, The

New Line // PG-13 // February 8, 2005
List Price: $27.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Jeff Paramchuk | posted February 8, 2005 | E-mail the Author
With a name like Nicholas Sparks attached to the story, you know that you'll be in for a tearjerker of a movie, and The Notebook is no exception. This is the third story of Sparks' that has been adapted to the big screen, and while the subject matter has been covered many times before, this is still a decent entry in to typical class war love story. When the movie opens, we have are introduced to an elderly couple who live in an assisted living home in the deep South. The elderly man, played by James Garner spends his days reading from a book to Gena Rowlands, all while hoping to spark some recognition in her dementia. The story that the man reads from is somehow familiar to Rowlands character but because of her disorder, she can't place why it seems familiar to her. When reading, the movie transitions back to the 1940s and the unlikely yet predictable story of two young lovers takes place before you.

The lead characters are Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams), Noah is a hard working young man who has a dream of buying an old dilapidated plantation and restoring the house to it's previous splendor. Allie is a daughter of Southern money, and that is quickly apparent when her father invites Noah to the house for a meal and he doesn't quite fit in with the well-to-do group. Allie's family quickly worries that this is becoming more than just the summer romance of a girl on vacation and cuts short their time near the boy, hoping that space and time will quickly help them forget each other.

Time does pass, a war takes place (in an all too short bit of excitement for the male viewing crowd), and a volunteer Allie meets a young man in the hospital who ends up making the young beauty fall in love with him. While being proud that her wedding is being called the social event of the year, Allie looks at a newspaper and sees a photo of Noah in front of his dream house, and oddly enough feelings are rekindled and she takes a couple days to head back to see Noah. What follows is a predictable if not obvious conclusion to the story, Allie must choose between an old flame and her new husband to be.

The performances by the entire cast were actually very well done; emotions onscreen were well demonstrated especially by Garner in a late scene in the movie. Most men who see this movie are more than likely seeing it because they have a significant other who is interested in movies of this type, and to those men I say, there have been worse movies. For the intended audience, this movie is a hit; it has a love story that on some level every person who sees the movie can connect with. If you walk in expecting a fantastic movie with some great plot surprises, don't. Anyone who's seen any movie, can see what's going to happen here from the onset, but don't let that hold you back from seeing what is actually a decent movie for a weekend date night.


How's it Look

New Line helps fill out its Platinum Series with a dual sided DVD that features full screen version on one side, and a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer on the other. The transfer is actually fairly decent considering the amount of supplemental information included on the disc. I didn't notice and dust specks, and noticed little edge enhancement. A fair portion of the movie is shot in the dark outdoors, and the blacks held up quite well.

The palette through the movie changed between the two time frames presented, with the 1940s being slightly darker and with a green tint, while the present time scenes featured nice bright reds and greens when outdoors.

How's it Sound

Oddly, a Dolby Digital EX 5.1 soundtrack is the main option. I say oddly, because the movie didn't seem to benefit from that extra sound processing, as only a few scenes really used the sound to drive home points (other than provoking tears with the score).

I did find the mix slightly low, except for in the few loud scenes in the movie. As a result, I had to turn up the front speaker a little louder to compensate for the low dialog.


Keeping with the tradition of the Platinum Series, this is a quite loaded DVD. The following is included:

  • Over twenty eight minutes of deleted and extended scenes, with optional directors commentary
  • All in the Family: Nick Cassavetes (11:39) - A piece that shows some the character and sheds some background into director Nick Cassavetes
  • Nicholas Sparks: A Simple Story, Well Told (6:37) - Short featurette that talks about Sparks books and some background on the writer
  • Southern Exposure: Locating The Notebook (11:33) - Describing the characteristics of transforming present day South Carolina into the 1940s
  • Casting Ryan & Rachel (4:07) - A brief look which describes the casting of both Ryan And Rachel, and some brief footage of McAdams' screen test
  • Rachel McAdams Screen Test (3:37) - Rachel McAdams screen test, book-ended by some footage from the movie
  • Theatrical trailer (2:19)
  • Soundtrack Promo

    Also included are two separate commentaries, one from talkative director Cassavetes who covers a wide range of topics. This made for an interesting commentary as Cassavetes enthusiasm for movies really shines through, and is also demonstrated in the small featurette dedicated to him. The other feature length commentary is from novel writer Nicholas Sparks. Again, this was an interesting commentary as I've found other writer's commentaries to be. He discusses alterations in the book to movie translation, the inspiration behind the movie as well as touches on his writing process.

    Closing Remarks

    While not necessarily "my" favorite type of movie, I found The Notebook to be a decent love story. Once you get past the predictability and sit back and enjoy the chemistry of the actors and the well written story by Nicholas Sparks, you are left with a quite good movie. As mentioned before, this movie takes what it has and does it very well. And the DVD itself is packed with some great commentaries, and some decent featurettes. The soft hearted person in your life would definitely get many hours of enjoyment out of this movie, and for that reason alone I am giving this a solid recommendation.
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