I'm one of the few people who hadn't seen the movie adaptation of Nicolas Sparks' THE NOTEBOOK. Not until the other night.
I don't know why I put it off--I've had the DVD forever. Maybe I just thought it would be cheesy, although I did read the book a while ago and I was touched by the framing device: the old man reading to the old woman from that notebook because--as the reader gradually discovers--the old woman is his wife and he's trying to basically resurrect her with their love story.
I was happy to discover that the film wasn't half as cheesy as I expected. Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling have great chemistry (duh--real life couple), and I loved the old-time setting. I thought the film did a great job of using history as more than a superficially nostalgic backdrop. There was a real sense that these characters *existed* in this time, that they were more than faded snapshots. And speaking of character, I found it very interesting that the heroine remained likeable, even when she was making frustrating choices and acting like what could've so easily been a moron. (Treating her fiance like dirt? Arguing with the hero all the time? Yeesh--but Rachel McAdams is a good enough actress to still charm the audience.)
So the flashback portions? Great. The story's framing device? Almost great.
I say this because I really didn't like the ending of this film. I know, I know--boo! But let me explain.
Here we are, watching as the old man (James Garner) slowly and patiently reads the contents of the notebook to his wife (Gena Rowlands). His devotion is enough to make anyone sob. You can see, little by little, the light coming on in her eyes, the understanding that this diverting story he's reading actually means so much more. Then, when that moment of enlightenment comes for her, it's glorious. It's romantic. It's beautiful. They dance with each other, just as they used to so long ago, when their bodies and minds hadn't betrayed them in their old age. The camera pulls back, and everything is right with the world. Everything has come full circle.
But then...? Sigh. Then the movie has to continue, though I can't remember exactly when the book itself ended. I'm not sure if the script altered the finale or not. However, then we have to endure the sight of the woman forgetting who her husband is and going into a frightened rage. And the very end? A real stretch, IMHO. The husband comes back to his wife, and in a moment of clarity, she remembers him and they die together.
For me, those extra fifteen minutes at the end killed the glow I had going from that dance. I don't understand why the film had to continue when they had such a perfect ending earlier. Yet, luckily, I can forget about that ending and recall the rest of the movie.
Ironic, seeing as the old man was just trying to get his wife to remember...not forget.