Love brings us together.

Dementia, parent’s disapproval, different backgrounds and social classes tear us apart.

No matter how we may drift away, no matter how many obstacles might separate us, if
love is true, it will always bring us back together again.

Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, directed by Nick Cassavetes and released in
2004, "The Notebook," a romantic drama, delivers this very message.

I’m the Ranting Usher.  Let me talk you to your seat.

Cinematographer Robert Fraisse, director of photography, and composer Aaron Zigman
introduce a spectacular sunrise and a serene yet somber score.  This is a beautifully
subtle way of establishing the tone of the movie.  Viewers become instantly aware of the
film’s genre and can easily ascertain that they are about to be enlightened by a
profound statement about life and about love.

Allie Calhoun, played by Gena Rowlands, suffers from dementia and memory loss and
has been committed to a nursing home.  Both doctors and nurses believe that the disease
will overtake her, and that there’s very little they can do.  One man, Duke, played by
James Garner, believes in miracles and is convinced that with God’s help, he can succeed
where science will inevitably fail.

Duke reads her a love story, one he has written down in his notebook, in an attempt to
resurface parts of Allie’s memory.  The Notebook flashes back to North Carolina in the
early 1940’s.  While the story ensues, we soon discover that what’s going on in the past
is, in a subtle way, actually paralleling what’s going on in the present.  A relationship
undergoes a turbulent cycle as it forms, falls apart, and then reforms once more.

While telling a story in a hospital and traversing back and forth in time is strikingly
reminiscent of a plot device used in "Fried Green Tomatoes," even though that was not a
romantic film, I think the approach works given the identity of the characters mentioned
above.

It’s really their story.

Ordinarily, I would preface this with a ‘Spoiler Alert,’ but the movie does little to conceal
or disguise this fact.  Actually, it’s fairly predictable.

Young Allie Calhoun, who is in the beginning Allie Hamilton, is played by Rachel
McAdams.  She is a seventeen-year old rich girl vacationing in Seabrook Island when
she meets Noah, a lumber yard worker, played by Ryan Gosling.  Allie accepts his offer
to take her out on a date while he is hanging by a limb from the top of a Ferris wheel.

“They didn’t agree on much,” Duke narrates.  “In fact, they didn’t agree on anything.  
They fought all the time, and challenged each other every day.  But in spite their
differences they had one important thing in common.  They were crazy about each other.”

“Say you’re a bird,” Allie encourages him.

“If you’re a bird, I’m a bird,” Noah replies.

As with most romantic tales, the tension builds and increases when elements like
opposing social classes, constant arguing, and the disapproval of Allie’s parents threaten
to end their relationship.

Noah tells her straight-out.  “So, it’s not going to be easy.  It’s going to be really hard.
We’re going to have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you.  
I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day.”

What makes "The Notebook" unique is that the heroine barely remembers what happened.  
As is the case in both "Fried Green Tomatoes" and "Titanic," the story is told entirely
from the heroine’s point of view.  Here, Allie hears the story from someone whom she
believes is a complete stranger, and rediscovers the truth little by little.   

The movie thrives on a realistic theme of endurance.  It challenges our primary characters
with every hardship imaginable, such as domineering, overprotective parents or that they
can rarely, if ever, agree to disagree about anything, him being poor, her being rich as
well as other variables.

Ultimately, "The Notebook" proves that even during the most heartbreaking moments,
even when the odds are totally implausible that the couple will ever rejoin, Allie and Noah’
s love for one another never truly wavers.

The resolution reassures audiences that it’s okay to believe in love again.

“Do you think our love, can take us away together,” Allie asks.

“I think our love can do anything we want it to,” Duke/Noah answers, savoring his
miracle, the greatest one of all.

I’m the Ranting Usher.  Let me talk to you about what matters most in this life.  

Do you agree with my review?  Have you ever been in love like this?  Let me know in the
comments section.
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